TWU condemns airline funding without conditions

The Transport Workers’ Union has condemned the Federal Government announcement today to extend funding to airlines until March without any conditions attached.

The TWU is seeking public funding to be tied to commitments from airlines to engage their own employees for work, rather than outsourcing workers and using outside agencies, and to cap executive pay packets and bonuses for the foreseeable future.

Qantas has already received over a billion dollars in financial support and at the same time is axing and outsourcing 2,500 workers and paying its executives millions. Qantas announced two weeks ago it expected to break even financially next year.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Federal Government was failing to protect the taxpayers’ interests and that the union would write to Transport Minister Michael McCormack highlighting the problem.

“This is no strings attached corporate welfare at its worst. The Federal Government is opening the public purse to the likes of Qantas without ensuring that the taxpayer is getting a good deal. Qantas has taken public financial support to keep flying and the Jobkeeper payment for its workers and at the same time is trashing the jobs of 2,500 ground workers. Qantas will instead engage workers through outside agencies on lower pay and conditions. This will affect working families, local communities and hit our economy,” he said.

“Qantas has said it will break even next year and no doubt will start making profit soon after. This will mean a bonanza again in executive pay and bonuses, following its payment of $24 million to its CEO, meanwhile workers will have been pushed out of their jobs. The Federal Government is either displaying a shocking lack of oversight or is willingly supporting the Qantas strategy to slash and burn jobs,” Kaine added.

The TWU began a Federal Court case last week against Qantas over the outsourcing which will lower standards on safety, security and service.

The case led by the architect of the Maritime Union’s successful litigation during the waterfront dispute, lawyer Josh Bornstein, takes aim at the legality of Qantas’s plans to outsource its ground workers outlining that it breaches the Fair Work Act.

The Federal Court case follows the Qantas announcement last week that it was rejecting workers’ in-house bid for their own jobs, despite the fact that the bid, assisted by EY, was cheaper than the average bid from outside agencies.

Workers at 10 airports including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Alice Springs and Canberra will lose their jobs, which will now be outsourced to workers on less wages and conditions.

Qantas announced scandal-ridden Swissport would get a major portion of the outsourced work, getting around 1,000 of the jobs. Swissport, which has been exposed over low paid workers on grueling split shifts forced to sleep at the airports, has failed over almost five years to get a new enterprise agreement in place, with the Fair Work Commission rejecting successive deals because they do not meet minimum standards.

Sick Qantas workers were 10 days ago left devastated after the airline’s refusal to allow them to use the leave they built up over years was backed by the Federal Court. Qantaswas found by the Federal Court previously to be misusing Jobkeeper, refusing to pay workers for the overtime and weekends they have worked.

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.

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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