‘QANTAS PLANNED TO USE PANDEMIC TO OUTSOURCE 2,500 WORKERS’ – says TWU

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TWU poster – rally of TWU ground operation staff fighting to defend their jobs

AUSTRALIA’S Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is demanding that PM Scott Morrison explains what he knew about Qantas management’s long-term decision to axe and outsource 2,500 workers, as local media revealed this week that documents show the airline planned the move 10 years ago.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said that Qantas has received $800 million support through public subsidies since the pandemic hit and it is vital that the Prime Minister reveals if he was aware of the plan to kill the jobs.
Kaine said: ‘Scott Morrison has a close connection to Qantas management and talks to them regularly so he must explain revelations that Qantas was planning the outsourcing all along.
‘If he did know about it then why didn’t he attach conditions to Jobkeeper to ensure Qantas retains its workers, since the point of Jobkeeper is to keep the connection to workers?
‘If he didn’t know about it then the Prime Minister has been duped by Qantas management.’
‘The idea that Qantas management had cooked up a plan to kill and outsource the jobs of 2,500 workers 10 years ago is utterly shocking,’ he continued.
‘It shows the move is part of a 10-year cynical course of conduct by senior management that explains a lot about the behaviour at the airline ever since.
‘This revelation on the outsourcing of Qantas’ entire ground operations exposes a senior management team out of control and targeting a group of workers.
‘Qantas management has used the pandemic as the basis for the plan to kill and outsource its ground operations.
‘Now that lie has been exposed with revelations that they were planning it all along.
‘We call on Qantas management to halt its plans to outsource the jobs immediately.
‘This is management philosophy out of step with the cooperative, unselfish and community focused approach called for by the Prime Minister to deal with this pandemic.
‘It is time for a fresh management and governance team at Qantas.’
The TWU last week began legal action against Qantas over plans to axe and outsource the 2,500 jobs.
The legal action centres on Qantas’ failure to consult with workers on its plan to kill their jobs and over the tendering process which has been designed to make it impossible for workers to bid for their jobs.
In documents to workers, Qantas has given workers just six weeks to make a final bid and to find $100 million labour cost savings and $80 million to fund equipment upgrades, despite the airline choosing not to do these upgrades when it made billions of dollars in profit, including $1.5 billion in profit in 2016, $1.4 billion in profit in 2017, $1.6 billion in profit in 2018 and $1.3 billion in profit in 2019.
When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.
Last Friday, the TWU stated: ‘The Transport Workers’ Union will take legal action against Qantas today over plans to axe and outsource 2,500 jobs, as the airline’s workers gather in Canberra to demand action from the Federal Government.
‘The legal action will be filed in the Fair Work Commission this morning and centres on Qantas’ failure to consult with workers on its plan to kill their jobs and over the tendering process which has been designed to make it impossible for workers to bid for their jobs.
‘Qantas has given workers just six weeks to make a final bid and to find $80 million to fund equipment upgrades, despite the airline choosing not to do these upgrades when it made almost a billion dollar in profit last year.’
TWU Secretary Kaine said the legal action is necessary as Qantas is violating workers’ rights.
‘Qantas has torn up the agreements and the rulebook on how to act like a responsible corporate entity and has turned on its own workforce and the taxpayers,’ he said.
‘Our legal and political actions today are aimed at bringing about some fairness at a company acting out of control.
‘Qantas workers are not being made redundant, they are being replaced in a spiteful, nasty way that targets them.
‘Qantas is using the cover of the pandemic crisis to axe and outsource these workers so they can be paid less by an overseas contractor.
‘For 100 years Qantas baggage handlers, drivers, ramp workers and cleaners have carried out this work and now during the year of its centenary the airline wants to kill these jobs altogether.
‘We are appealing to the Qantas board and the Federal Government to stand up against the attempt to drag down standards at the national airline.
‘Scott Morrison has a simple choice: he can either stand with Qantas workers and the taxpayer or he can support Alan Joyce and his spiteful management team.
‘The Qantas CEO is now back earning millions while the airline has pocketed $800 million in taxpayers funding between Jobkeeper and public money to fly planes.
‘Qantas has taken this money and is failing to provide the public with a dividend in terms of retaining jobs that it admits are still required.’
Qantas has received around $800 million in federal funding, including $490 million to subsidise wages to retain jobs and to keep domestic and international routes operating.
Swissport is already advertising for the roles Qantas wants to axe and outsource.
Just three weeks ago the Fair Work Commission quashed the latest Swissport enterprise agreement, because its rates and conditions were below the award.
It is the third Swissport enterprise agreement the Fair Work Commission has thrown out because of low standards.
Swissport has been exposed over workers forced to sleep at airports because of low rates and gruelling split shifts.
There are also serious concerns about safety and security at Swissport. Incidents include:

  • At Sydney International Airport there were 134 injury incidents among a Swissport staff of 326;
  • Security incidents, including passengers at Perth airport allowed airside to collect their own baggage after a worker was left alone to unload an entire aircraft;
  • Workers being forced back to work while still injured;
  • Managers accompanying injured staff into doctors’ surgeries during appointments;
  • Broken and faulty equipment in use around aircraft and passengers.

War has erupted between Opera Australia and the arts workers union, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) over proposed redundancies at the company.
Opera Australia recently announced that a number of roles ‘will no longer be required’ at the company following an organisational restructure.
MEAA has accused Opera Australia of ‘acting unconscionably’ by axing 25% of its workforce without consultation with the union.
According to Paul Davies, the director of MEAA’s Musicians section, cuts will be made to every department of the company, including musicians, chorus performers and technical and staging crew.
Calling the planned redundancies ‘a terrible decision by Opera Australia’s management and its board,’ Davies noted that the affected workers ‘have been loyal employees of OA for many years and have already taken a temporary pay cut to help the company through the crisis caused by Covid-19’.
He continued: ‘Now, at the worst possible time, their loyalty has been repaid with a brutal round of forced redundancies and they find themselves unemployed in the middle of the worst recession since the Second World War.’
Davies also accused Opera Australia management of showing contempt for its workforce, engaging in a sham consultation process, and deliberately targeting individual musicians to be sacked.
‘This disgraceful behaviour was on show last week when at one presentation given to OA staff, chaired by artistic director Lyndon Teraccini, employees were not permitted to ask questions or comment,’ he said.
‘Questions directed to OA management by the MEAA have not been answered and OA is refusing to consult directly with the union in defiance of the wishes of the majority of staff from all sections of the company,’ Davies added.
Davies said that staff cuts at Opera Australia would not only diminish the company in size but would affect its capacity to deliver quality productions, as well as impacting its credibility.
‘That this comes in in the middle of a pandemic when the company is in receipt of JobKeeper subsidies that have only yesterday been extended until March 2021 makes it even more unconscionable,’ he said.

  • Amazon denies it plans to spy on workers in Sydney to stop them unionising.

Amazon Australia has removed two job advertisements for analysts to monitor ‘labour organising threats against the company’.
The ads caused alarm due to the implications for Amazon workers in Australia – in particular ahead of the company’s intended opening of a 200,000sq metre western Sydney warehouse at the end of 2021, creating 2,000 jobs.