September 13, 2023


Richard Goyder and the entire Qantas board must be replaced by new directors including a worker representative, after the High Court today unanimously upheld two Federal Court verdicts that Qantas illegally outsourced 1700 workers, the TWU said.

The TWU has also called on new CEO Vanessa Hudson to publicly apologise to illegally sacked workers and commit to a speedy and non-adversarial approach to Federal Court hearings on compensation and penalties.

Three unanimous rulings from the Federal Court and High Court found Qantas breached the Fair Work Act. Outsourcing workers prevented them accessing industrial rights to collectively bargain and take protected industrial action.

Qantas previously convinced the Federal Court not to reinstate the workers saying that if it did, Qantas management would sack them all over again.

Since the outsourcing, Qantas’ service has nosedived. Complaints increased 70% in 2022 amid high cancellations, delays and lost baggage.

Qantas faces three further court challenges:

  • An unprecedented criminal prosecution from the NSW safety regulator for standing down a health and safety representative during the pandemic.
  • Record penalties of $600 million sought by the ACCC for selling cancelled flights.
  • A class action from angry customers who say they were misled and denied refunds.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine paid tribute to the workforce’s determination to hold Qantas management to account.

“Qantas workers have made history today. It has been three years and 20 days since Alan Joyce first announced the decision to outsource these workers, and they have not stopped fighting for a moment to ensure justice was served.

“The final act of this board should be to strip Alan Joyce of his bonuses and follow him out the door.

“The Joyce regime has been toppled, but the airline cannot achieve the reset necessary for its survival under the same board that resided over the largest case of illegal sackings in Australian corporate history. Richard Goyder cannot make it through another day as Chair.

“Qantas needs a fresh start. A worker voice on the board would make a significant difference and send the right signal that Qantas is serious about getting back on track.

“All eyes will be on Vanessa Hudson as she responds to this verdict. Illegally sacked workers are owed an apology and an end to Qantas’ attempts to delay paying compensation and penalties.

“Hudson must reverse the destructive business model at Qantas that has exploited or attempted to manufacture loopholes to axe and outsource essential workers to 38 different entities. These actions have destroyed the airline and its reputation.

“The airline and the industry need saving from themselves. We need Federal Parliament to urgently pass the Closing the Loopholes Bill, and the Federal Government to establish an independent commission to ensure aviation decisions are made in the interests of workers, customers and the public.”


Last year, a dossier of serious safety incidents at ground handler Swissport, which picked up the majority of outsourced jobs, revealed a plethora of near-misses including:

  • Firearms unloaded onto arrivals carousels;
  • Dangerous goods loaded onto planes without being documented;
  • Cargo doors left open;
  • Stairs removed while passenger doors open;
  • Huge plane load imbalances;
  • Staff working while injured; and
  • Vehicles colliding with the refueling hose.

Last week another collision with Qantas aircraft left considerable damage. See photo here.

Qantas’ record $2.5 billion pre-tax profit reported in August revealed passenger revenue has jumped 32% since pre-covid 2019.

Qantas received $2.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies throughout the pandemic, $856 million of which was JobKeeper to keep workers employed – the highest amount of JobKeeper paid to any company. Yet, by August 2021, 9400 employees had left Qantas following overzealous redundancies and outsourcing.

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