The TWU has slammed Qantas’ costly attempt to drag out workers’ suffering by filing an eleventh-hour application seeking leave of the High Court to appeal the unanimous decisions of four Federal Court judges that it illegally sacked and outsourced 2000 workers.
The TWU has declared the exorbitant drawn-out legal battle another callous tactic by the airline to target workers prepared to stand up against the corporate bully and fight collectively for fair pay and conditions at the airline.
Qantas’ announcement coincides with a preliminary roundtable held today to begin the process of determining compensation to be paid to outsourced workers and follows lavish cash splashes by the airline, emptying the coffers before compensation hearings begin on 18th July.
The Federal Court has on two occasions ruled the outsourcing decision illegal, finding Qantas breached the Fair Work Act by sacking ground crew to prevent them exercising their rights to bargain and take industrial action.
The outsourcing decision devastated the lives of almost 2,000 workers. Court proceedings over the past two years have heard countless stories from outsourced workers of relationship breakdowns, the loss of family homes and serious mental health issues – including suicidal thoughts.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Qantas’ behaviour was completely out-of-touch with community expectations from a company that claims to be the “Spirit of Australia”.
‘Qantas workers bravely stood together and fought Australia’s worst corporate bully for over 18 months. Qantas’ disgraceful and illegal behaviour cost workers homes, marriages, and livelihoods. Workers have been vindicated by the Federal Court on two occasions, but as if the emotional toll of the outsourcing and legal process hasn’t been enough, Qantas now wants to prolong their suffering through more unnecessary and expensive legal proceedings.
‘Qantas is a husk of what it once was. Senior management have dragged Qantas’ well-respected reputation through the mud, burning eyewatering sums of money to defend a decision they know was an illegal assault on secure jobs and wasting billions more on extravagant purchases. Overpaid executives should instead be figuring out how they’ll compensate these workers and recover from the chaos that has ensued for passengers since the exodus of skilled ground crew.
‘Enough is enough. Qantas should drop its appeal, accept its wrongdoing, and begin the work of earning back Australia’s trust by fairly compensating workers for the jobs they unlawfully stole from them. If management won’t do the right thing, the Qantas Board should intervene and save the airline from itself.
‘Qantas acted in the most abhorrent way with pockets full of unconditional funding from the Morrison Government. This disgraceful saga points to why workers need an independent Federal body with the power to hold airlines and airports to account; something the Albanese Government should move to implement as soon as possible. Only then will we have a robust system capable of ending the race to the bottom in aviation companies like Qantas have so reprehensibly encouraged’.
Following Qantas’ second loss in the Federal Court, the TWU has called for the Qantas Board to sack CEO Alan Joyce and key outsourcing decision-maker CEO of Domestic and International Andrew David for their role in the illegal decision.
Multiple safety breaches have been reported since the outsourcing, including locking pins being left in landing gear, belt-loaders crashing into aircraft and pilots being given incorrect weight information. Last year, Qantas lost its prized position as the world’s safest airline.
SafeWork NSW is also prosecuting Qantas over its standing down of a Health and Safety Representative who provided legitimate advice to workers cleaning planes arriving from China in early 2020 without adequate PPE.