September 3, 2020


The Transport Workers’ Union will take legal action against Qantas today over plans to axe and outsource 2,500 jobs, as the airline’s workers gather in Canberra to demand action from the Federal Government.

The legal action will be filed in the Fair Work Commission this morning and centres on Qantas’ failure to consult with workers on its plan to kill their jobs and over the tendering process which has been designed to make it impossible for workers to bid for their jobs.

Qantas has given workers just six weeks to make a final bid and to find $80 million to fund equipment upgrades, despite the airline choosing not to do these upgrades when it made almost a billion dollar in profit last year.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the legal action was necessary as Qantas was violating workers’ rights.

“Qantas has torn up the agreements and the rulebook on how to act like a responsible corporate entity and has turned on its own workforce and the taxpayers. Our legal and political action today are aimed at bringing about some fairness at a company acting out of control. Qantas workers are not being made redundant, they are being replaced in a spiteful, nasty way that targets them. Qantas is using the cover of the pandemic crisis to axe and outsource these workers so they can be paid less by an overseas contractor. For 100 years Qantas baggage handlers, drivers, ramp workers and cleaners have carried out this work and now during the year of its centenary the airline wants to kill these jobs altogether. We are appealing to the Qantas board and the Federal Government to stand up against the attempt to drag down standards at the national airline,” he said.

“Scott Morrison has a simple choice: he can either stand with Qantas workers and the taxpayer or he can support Alan Joyce and his spiteful management team. The Qantas CEO is now back earning millions while the airline has pocketed $800 million in taxpayers funding between Jobkeeper and public money to fly planes. Qantas has taken this money and is failing to provide the public with a dividend in terms of retaining jobs that it admits are still required,” Kaine added.

Qantas has received around $800 million in federal funding, including $490 million to subsidise wages to retain jobs and to keep domestic and international routes operating.

Scandal-ridden Swissport, controlled through parent company HNA by the Chinese Government, is already advertising for the roles Qantas wants to axe and outsource.

Just three weeks ago the Fair Work Commission quashed the latest Swissport enterprise agreement, because its rates and conditions were below the award. It is the third Swissport enterprise agreement the Fair Work Commission has thrown because of low standards.

Swissport has been exposed over workers forced to sleep at airports because of low rates and grueling split shifts.

There are also serious concerns about safety and security at Swissport. Incidents include:

  • At Sydney International Airport there were 134 injury incidents among a Swissport staff of 326.
  • Security incidents, including passengers at Perth airport allowed airside to collect their own baggage after a worker was left alone to unload an entire aircraft;
  • Workers being forced back to work while still injured;
  • Managers accompanying injured staff into doctors’ surgeries during appointments;
  • Broken and faulty equipment in use around aircraft and passengers

Click here to see photos and video of problems at Swissport.

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