TWU fights Qantas on crew

Release date: 11/06/2012

THE Transport Workers’ Union yesterday weighed into the foreign labour dispute, demanding the Gillard government prevent Qantas from hiring overseas flight attendants "for $400 a week".

By JOE KELLY, MATTHEW FRANKLIN, The Australian, Page: 4

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said the government faced pressure from the mining and construction unions over the use of imported labour in the resources sector, but meanwhile Qantas was using foreign flight crews in areas where there were no shortages.

He called on Immigration Minister Chris Bowento intervene and prevent the practice, which he claimed resulted in foreign workers being paid wages at rates below Australian standards.

"Here we are arguing about do we need people coming in from overseas to takejobs while being paid market rates," Mr Sheldon told the Sky News Australian Agenda program yesterday.

"Qantas, with its political influence, is bringing in flight attendants where there are many jobs and people wanting to carry out that work." Qantas denies the $400 a week figure and has accused Mr Sheldon of making "completely baseless statements". Corporate affairs manager Olivia Wirth said the airline’s staff were among the highest paid in the industry.

The Fair Work Ombudsman filed action in the Federal Court against Qantas subsidiary Jetstar last month over the use of foreign staff on the domestic legs of international flights. Foreign crews are paid on the terms and conditions of their home country.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims Jetstar employed eight crew through two overseas staffing companies and is seeking back-pay of more than $7500.

Meanwhile Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has threatened to sue Mr Sheldon over claims Mr Joyce misled parliament about his grounding of the Qantas fleet last year.

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