The TWU is calling on the Federal Government to take an equity stake in Qantas to guarantee aviation jobs and protect taxpayer money as the airline’s financial results show it will need further bail outs.
Despite $2 billion in public funding with no strings attached, the results released today show underlying losses before tax of $1.83b. Continuing state lockdowns and international border restrictions mean more funding will need to be pumped into the airline, despite Qantas attempting to paint a picture of flights resuming this year when the Federal Government has made no such commitment.
Yesterday, Federal Court declarations provided further certainty that Qantas’ outsourcing of 2000 workers was an illegal move to prevent workers bargaining for better pay and conditions with possible industrial action. The TWU said public funding must not be used for a costly court attempt to overturn the unequivocal judgment, and any future government funding should be conditional on the reinstatement of workers that want their jobs back.
In March 2020, a national YouGov poll showed a majority of people – 62% – wanted the Government to take a stake in private companies which require bailouts, with 50% stating that Qantas should be nationalised if the current situation got worse and only 20% opposed.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Federal Government must not repeat its mistakes of the past 18 months of no strings public funding to an airline known to trash jobs.
“The pandemic has flown airlines head-first into a financial thunderstorm which is far from over. Governments around the world have been forced to put their hands in their pockets to shore up airlines because they know how critical aviation is to the economy. The difference is, the Australian Government has disproportionately doled out cash to Qantas without ensuring a return for the public’s investment. Instead, Scott Morrison stood idly by while Qantas ripped off workers and unlawfully sacked them. Even Qantas’ own documents revealed fears of Federal Government repercussions for axing workers after receiving bailouts, but the silence was deafening from Scott Morrison.
“Qantas has tried to deflect from the support it will need by exploiting the public’s wishes to visit family overseas by rushing out promises of international borders opening, but this is not the Republic of Qantas and the Federal Government has made no such commitment. When Alan Joyce inevitably comes banging on the door of Parliament House cap in hand for more public dollars, the Prime Minister must ensure any further funding comes with an equity stake to cap CEO salaries, protect jobs and ensure a good, safe carrier for taxpayers.
“The Government must now do what it should have done months ago and make certain that Australians’ taxes are not used to fund Qantas’ expensive lawyers to help it get away with abusing workers. Future bailouts must come with conditions to drop plans for a costly appeal and reinstate illegally sacked workers that want their jobs back,” he said.
Qantas has been a major winner of Federal Government support for aviation. The airline has received $2 billion in wage subsidies, financial support and fee-waiving from the Federal Government since the pandemic began.
Qantas announced it was standing down workers just hours after the Federal Government announced an aviation wage subsidy which benefits Qantas specifically. The subsidy covers 50% of cabin crew and pilots and no ground crew, which Qantas no longer employs.
The Federal Court recently found that Qantas’ decision to outsource its groundwork was illegal and that the company saw the pandemic as a “transformational opportunity” to make significant changes to its workforce. A recent TWU survey found that 77% of workers outsourced wanted their jobs back, and three quarters were not able to find full-time work after being unlawfully axed.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce earned $10.74m in realised-pay during the 2020 pandemic year. In 2019, the company reported its CEO was paid $24 million a year, making him the highest paid airline executive in the world.