November 23, 2020


Qantas workers have submitted a bid for their own jobs, in an attempt to save 2,500 livelihoods.

The bid, assisted by EY, makes the case for allowing Qantas workers to continue doing the airline’s baggage handling, ramp work and cabin cleaning. The alternative is for outside contractors to do this work, with Qantas exiting these core aviation functions for ever.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said workers have put together a competitive bid and Qantas should allow them to do the work.

“The consulting firm EY are advising us our bid is competitive. With EY’s expertise and the in-depth knowledge of our members about the Qantas processes we have been able to submit a bid which is competitive on cost while maintaining standards on service and safety. Workers, some of whom have done this work for many decades, have identified numerous efficiencies and savings. We urge Qantas to award the work to their loyal, dedicated workers who they have invested time and money in training up to the high standards that Qantas passengers expect. Qantas workers should be allowed to do Qantas work,” Kaine said.

“There is a real risk for Qantas investors and passengers if this work is auctioned off to outside contractors. There is no doubt that standards in service, safety and security will slip. We only need to look at the appalling example of Swissport, the preferred bidder for the Qantas work, to see what could befall the airline, including chronically fatigued and underpaid workers, safety and security breaches, deliberate understaffing and high injury rates. Considering the amount of public money which has been pumped into Qantas since the pandemic hit, the community has a right to expect better standards,” he said.

Qantas in August announced it wanted to outsource 2,500 ground workers. The airports affected include: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Alice Springs and Canberra. Jetstar workers have already been outsourced and many have been forced to leave their jobs in recent weeks.

EY has been working on the in-house bid on behalf of the TWU and Qantas workers since August. EY’s initial view of the proposed bid timetable was that it was “unattainable and unrealistic”. The TWU applied to the Fair Work Commission for more time and more information on the criteria for the in-house bid.

The Federal Government has given over a billion dollars to the aviation industry, including over a $800 million to Qantas, since the pandemic hit, with no conditions attached on retaining jobs or capping CEO salaries.

Swissport, which the Fair Work Commission has confirmed pay their workers below award minimums and which has been exposed over low paid workers forced to sleep at the airports, has already begun advertising for the Qantas work.

Qantas revealed in its annual report recently it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced last year its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

Qantas was found by the Federal Court recently to be misusing Jobkeeper, refusing to pay workers for the overtime and weekends they have worked. Sick Qantas workers are still fighting the airline in the courts over its refusal to pay them the sick leave they have built up.

The Senate recently passed a motion setting up an inquiry into the future of the aviation industry. It is expected to look at Government and industry failings to date and set out recommendations for support into the future.

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