Time for Leigh Clifford and the Old Boys' Club to Stop Attacking the Australian Way of Life

Release date: 6/12/2012

It’s time for Leigh Clifford and his Old Boys' Club to stop attacking workers and the Australian Way of Life.  That’s according to Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia, (TWU).

Tony was speaking today (06.11.12) from the ACTU in Melbourne, where the Union movement unanimously passed a resolution aimed at saving the future of Australia’s aviation industry.  He was joined at the Press Conference by Michael O’Connor, National Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The ACTU passed the resolution in response to the sustained and coordinated strategy by Leigh Clifford and the Qantas Board and management to undermine Australian working standards in the aviation industry.

“In the past week alone we have witnessed two attacks on the Australian Way of Life by Leigh Clifford and the Qantas Board.    Leigh Clifford’s comments that Qantas management should ignore Unions and negotiate contracts with individual workers and the airline’s attempt to muzzle the CFMEU by pulling the Union’s ad campaign on Qantas flights.  These two decisions are clearly part of a coordinated strategy to attack workers’ rights,” said Tony.

Michael O’Connor spoke in support of Tony Sheldon’s comments, “Last week, Qantas muzzled the CFMEU ‘Let’s Spread It Around’ campaign, which highlighted the great opportunities for Australians seeking work in the mining sector.  Qantas pulled our ad for being too political.  It is laughable that promoting safe and secure jobs for Australian men and women is deemed ‘political’, particularly in the same week that Qantas pulled out of its marketing campaign with Tourism Australia, for blatantly political reasons – to take on its former best friend Geoff Dixon.”

Stark Choice facing Australia
Both Union Leaders pointed to the stark choice facing Australia.  Tony Sheldon said, “We are facing a very clear choice between which road Australia takes.  Do we defend our proud tradition of fairness and secure sustainable jobs, or do we choose the race to the bottom, drive down working conditions and line the pockets of Leigh Clifford and his mates.”

According to Michael O’Connor, “The cosy relationship between Qantas Board members and the mining industry paints a picture of a club-like mentality, with exclusive membership for a few, at the expense of Australian standards of wages and conditions for Australian jobs.   No less than eight members of the Qantas Board have strong links with the mining industry, so is it any wonder that Qantas and our mining magnates are ganging up to attack workers and their families.”

Tony Sheldon said that one example of this coordinated attack is the approach taken by Qantas towards employees of labour hire companies who do the same work as Qantas workers.

“The TWU is about to enter into negotiations with QGS, a wholly owned Qantas labour hire company.    Here we have a situation where we can have two people, doing the same day’s work, but under a completely different set of wages and conditions.  We have surveyed QGS workers, and an overwhelming 92% indicated that they struggle financially due to the insecure nature of their work.”

Both Union leaders said they intend to campaign with other Unions to protect decent standards of living.  “Make no mistake, we are racing against time to halt the driving down of Australian working conditions.  We won’t be found wanting in our efforts to stand up for secure work for workers, and we will be asking the wider community to join us to help create opportunities for all Australians – not just the few – to get paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” said Tony Sheldon.

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