Qantas bonus fight
The TWU joins six other unions in fight over bonus delay
The TWU has been pursuing a number of legal actions against Qantas following its morally bankrupt behaviour towards its workforce throughout the covid-19 pandemic. Not only has it accepted $1 billion of taxpayer money to keep workers’ jobs only to outsource all ground handling anyway, it is also denying sick leave to workers with long-term illnesses.
In December the TWU launched a federal court case over moves by Qantas to outsource 2,000 jobs which will wipe out the airline’s entire ground handling operation and lower standards on safety, security and service. The case takes aim at the legality of Qantas’s plans to outsource its ground workers outlining that it breaches the Fair Work Act.
“We believe that not only is the move by Qantas management to kill off the jobs of 2000 workers morally wrong it is also illegal under the Fair Work Act,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
The Federal Court case comes after Qantas announced it was rejecting workers’ in-house bid for their own jobs, despite the fact that the bid, assisted by EY, was cheaper than the average bid from outside agencies.
Workers at 10 airports including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Alice Springs and Canberra will lose their jobs, which will now be outsourced to workers on less wages and conditions.
Over 400 Jetstar ground workers have already been outsourced. Qantas announced scandal-ridden Swissport would get a major portion of the outsourced work, getting around 1,000 of the jobs.
Sick Qantas workers are taking Qantas to the High Court in an appeal to take the sick leave they have built up over decades.
One such worker is Peter Seymour who received an email from Qantas while he was receiving treatment for cancer that he was no longer to be paid sick leave and would instead receive the much reduced JobKeeper.
“I love my job but that was a huge smack in the face. I’ve worked for 31 years and had all that sick leave accrued but I was treated just like a number. I could not stay on JobKeeper because I’ve got bills to pay so I was forced to take redundancy from the company. I’ve just turned 64 and I still have to work, I now have to find a job,” he said.
The case is being taken after a dissenting judge in the Federal Court judgment stated workers in Australia could be denied protections and entitlements because of the decision, and warned about “far-ranging effects… across all manner of leave entitlements”.
With the full support of the ACTU, the appeal to the High Court is being brought by Maurice Blackburn on behalf of the TWU, the ETU, the AWU and the AMWU.
“Denying sick workers the leave they have built up and pushing them in some case out of their jobs in order to access redundancy payments to pay bills is utterly despicable,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
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The TWU, along with the FAAA, the ACTU and the ASU will take Qantas to the High Court over the airline’s misuse of Jobkeeper which has seen workers ripped off their pay after working public holidays, weekends and overtime.
Instead of paying workers their rightful wages for these shifts Qantas has been manipulating rosters and paying workers no more than basic JobKeeper.
The Federal Court in September agreed Qantas should pay workers for the shifts they worked but a later court judgement backed the airline.
TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh said Qantas refusal to pay its workers fairly amounted to wage theft.
“Qantas has been engaging in wage theft, refusing to pay workers fairly and battling them through the courts. Senior Qantas management are back to paying themselves millions of dollars while Qantas workers aren’t even being paid properly for the work they are doing and are being denied the sick leave they are entitled to. The Federal Government and the Qantas board are refusing to hold them to account over this but workers are taking a stand,” McIntosh said.
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