Staff vote for safe skies and Australian jobs

Release date: 3/10/2011

Qantas staff across the company’s freight, cabin cleaning, catering, and ground crew operations have voted to take further protected industrial action this Friday from 1600 to 1800 (nationally, local times).

The unanimous endorsement of further stoppages reflects staff frustration at the company’s unserious approach to negotiating a workplace agreement.

At national report-back meetings last Friday, employees voiced particular concern that the company had refused to table an offer despite 14 face-to-face meetings having taken place over six months. Workers also expressed anger that Qantas’ priority lay with expensive re-branding rather than looking after loyal staff.

To date, Qantas is estimated to have spent $20 million on repositioning its corporate brand after a series of safety scares and a federal Senate inquiry into outsourcing, offshoring, and workplace bullying.

“It is regrettable that Qantas has forced its workforce into this, and staff want to give passengers as much notice about this stoppage as possible,” lead negotiator Scott Connolly said.

“The workers want passengers and other employees across Australia to know that their struggle is your struggle too.

“Safety and job security are paramount, and unfortunately it is left to workers to convince Qantas executives more interested in marketing of this unassailable fact.

“The irony is that the brand image of Qantas will be destroyed by the short-termism of executives determined to sell out the workforce, the passengers, and the shareholders.

“Graham Richardson’s comments Friday were spot-on.*

“It’s puzzling when a company ignores its workers, scorns the public feedback, and won’t listen to the wise words of respected public figures such as Mr Richardson.

Qantas has placed all its faith in admen and PR flacks. That is the exact opposite of what a successful and ethical business does.

It’s time Qantas invests in safety. “It’s time Qantas invests in the workforce.

“Workers appreciate the support they have received from passengers, and they thank them for understanding that

the safety of our national airline and the future of the Australian workplace hinge on these negotiations.

“For every Australian, this is a struggle too important to lose.”

* At Townsville Airport on Friday morning, Graham Richardson was vox popped by WIN News. He said:

“I’m terrified the way Qantas is moving things offshore.

“There are a whole lot of things that I think will worry all of us.

“That magnificent record that they’ve had over all those years you’ve got to put down to the people who do the work here.

“I just worry that it’s not going to be an Australian icon if more and more of the work is taken offshore.

“I don’t want it to be a Malaysian or a Chinese airline; I want it to be an Australian one.”

Media contact: 
Michael Wong 0411 875 910


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