September 8, 2021


The Transport Workers’ Union has welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to proceed with remedy hearings for the reinstatement and compensation of workers and penalties on Qantas for illegal outsourcing, despite the airline’s attempt to delay the process by overcomplicating the matter.

Justice Lee agreed with the TWU that workers’ lives must not be put on hold, indicating that he was willing to work over the Christmas period if necessary to have the case resolved as soon as possible.

The matter of reinstatement to this scale of 2000 workers has never before been dealt with in the Australian Federal Court, highlighting the monumental triumph of workers taking on Australia’s largest airline over their illegal sacking.

As proposed to the court by the TWU, workers will be surveyed on their preferences for reinstatement and compensation and a small sample of workers will run test cases to support the resolution of such a complex remedy hearing.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the court’s decision to proceed will bring relief to workers still struggling mentally and financially.

“Qantas has predictably but shamefully made every attempt to drag out the suffering of workers and delay the resolution of this case. Today, workers took another step towards justice.

“The strain that this turmoil has put on workers and their families has been immeasurable. Marriages have broken down and workers have had to seek medical help, describing to the union the ‘crippling anxiety’ and ‘physical illness and distress’ caused by their illegal sacking.

“Qantas is in receipt of $2 billion of taxpayer funding, most of which was intended to keep workers connected to their employer. Scott Morrison has stood aside while workers were unlawfully axed from their jobs in the middle of a pandemic. The Prime Minister must not allow funding from the public coffers be spent on challenging an emphatic Federal Court decision that Qantas broke the law,” he said.

A date for the remedy hearings will be set when the parties meet again in court on 1 October.

The TWU has called for the Federal Government to take an equity stake in Qantas to protect jobs and taxpayers after the airline reported a $1.73 billion loss, demonstrating that further bail outs will be required.

Current Federal Government subsidies for stood down aviation workers are unfairly skewed towards Qantas’ needs, covering only 50% of directly employed cabin crew and pilots and missing out entirely any ground handling or cleaning workers which Qantas illegally outsourced.

The TWU today wrote to the National Cabinet calling for a covid-safe Transport Roadmap including AviationKeeper support for all stood down workers and rapid pre-flight testing in airports. Click here for the letter.

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