May 23, 2023


The Transport Workers’ Union says Qantas should pay back the $2.7 billion of government handouts it received during the pandemic while it gutted the workforce, including through illegal sackings, and sent standards into nosedive.

Last week, TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine in his speech to the union’s National Council pledged to utilise all industrial instruments available to put workers at the centre of the rebuild of Qantas and the aviation industry, including through applications to vary aviation awards and future multi-employer bargaining.

The union says the record $2.5 billion profit forecast shows the need for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to rebalance aviation to an industry built on good, secure jobs and service standards rather than exorbitant profits, shareholder buybacks and multimillion dollar executive bonuses.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “This obscene profit forecast is the result of Qantas management bleeding dry workers, passengers and the taxpaying public. The right thing to do would be to pay back every dollar of no-strings government handouts Qantas received from Scott Morrison before it trashed every essential section of the airline to prop up executives and shareholders.

“The $100 million increase to the share buyback scheme is a kick in the guts to illegally sacked workers who were told their jobs were sacrificed to save this amount of money. Qantas passengers have faced chronic airport chaos because those 1700 families lost their livelihoods, which has been found twice by the Federal Court to have been illegally motivated to avoid them accessing their industrial rights.

“A $2.5 billion profit for the first full financial year since airfares skyrocketed, complaints against Qantas rose 70 per cent, the Federal Court found for a second time that the airline was responsible for the largest case of illegal sackings in Australian history, and a recently announced wet-leasing arrangement, essentially outsourcing and offshoring more essential jobs, just shows how out of whack aviation has become. This clearly demonstrates the need for dedicated regulation to rein in corporate greed for the sake of a reliable industry with quality jobs and service standards.

“The TWU has committed to utilise every industrial instrument at our disposal to lift standards for aviation workers and rebuild the industry, including award applications and multi-employer bargaining when the time is right.

“To return a strong, resilient industry, aviation needs to be turned on its head. The Federal Government should establish a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to reset the industry by setting and overseeing appropriate standards across our airports,” he said.

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