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It’s war! Qantas unions rally to chief exec Alan Joyce

November 20, 2013 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

It seems like a story from a parallel universe, but it’s true – Australian unions representing Qantas are throwing their support behind Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. They are backing his campaign to stop moves which Qantas claims could make Virgin Australia 80% foreign owned and able to undercut Qantas in its domestic market.

Joyce is resolutely opposed to a looming AUD 350 million foreign capital injection into Virgin Australia Holdings. He wants government intervention to stop it – and the unions are backing him on it. A battle plan has been launched, spearheaded by a campaign involving employee action, unions, email, social media and a petition.Sidebar-Article-Banner-250

At the heart of the matter is Virgin Australia Holdings plans to raise AUD 350 million by offering new shares to existing Virgin Australia shareholders. The capital raising is underwritten by Virgin Australia’s major shareholders: Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways.

Joyce sees the proposed capital injection as the latest move in a strategy by the “predatory” trio of state-owned airlines to subsidise Virgin Australia so Virgin can continue to undercut Qantas on profitable domestic routes. Joyce, the Australian Financial Review reports, feels this could make it difficult for Qantas to support its international network – to the advantage of the foreign competitors.

Joyce says the AUD 350 million raising from the three state-owned airlines – Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways – would boost the total ownership of Virgin by the trio from 63% to over 70%. Joyce fears that Virgin Australia may soon be effectively owned by three foreign governments – yet Virgin International would still be designated an Australian carrier.

Joyce has called on Australia’s federal ­government to intervene. He has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Transport Minister Warren Truss and all state governments.

In very recent history, Joyce has clashed head-on with unions representing Qantas pilots, engineers and ground workers.

On this issue, however, unions stand firmly behind Joyce. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said it had been approached on Monday by unions representing Qantas workers “who were extremely concerned by news reports regarding the national carrier”.

“We are concerned about reports of an uncertain future for Qantas as a result of the uneven playing field that has evolved within the local aviation industry,” ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said.

“A strong and viable local aviation industry is in the best interests of the country but most importantly the more than 40,000 Australians that work in it.”

Meanwhile, employee petitions have been launched at Qantas. A website has been set up: http://fairgo4qantas.nationbuilder.com/

Emails are circulating. One doing the rounds at Qantas yesterday read as follows:

 

FAIRGO4QANTAS AND AUSTRALIAN AVIATION 

The foreign takeover of Virgin is a risk to the future of Qantas and all of our jobs. It means Virgin, which will be 80% foreign owned, can use its unlimited funds to weaken Qantas in the domestic market and cripple our international business. 

We can’t let this happen.

We must not let three foreign governments take control of Virgin and ruin the Australian aviation industry that we have fought so hard for. We ask all employees to make their voice heard by petitioning the Federal Government. Simply click on the link below to complete the petition and stand up for Australia’s Qantas.  

http://fairgo4qantas.nationbuilder.com/ 

Spread the word.

Make sure you tell your friends and family about the threat to our airline industry. Forward them the link above or post it on your social pages asking them to speak up for Qantas.

Use the hash tag #fairgo4qantas and where possible, use the @qantasairways Twitter handle. 

Tell your story.

Our company is made up of over 30,000 passionate people who believe in Qantas and Australian aviation. We’d love to use your stories to help us show the government how important Qantas is to our country. Tell us your story about working at Qantas, what it means to be a Qantas employee and why you feel the national carrier is so important to Australia. Email us at employeecomm@qantas.com.au or post on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/qantas).

 

ACTU has pledged its support.

Oliver declared: “For over 90 years Qantas has been the spirit of Australia employing tens of thousands of Australians, training thousands of apprentices, keeping regional communities connected and playing a key role in national crises such as the Bali Bombings and Boxing Day Tsunami.

“Qantas is a significant national employer with over 35,000 Australians working across heavy maintenance, call centres, catering and crew.

“Australians rightly expect the flying kangaroo to be in the skies for the years to come.

“It is incumbent on the Government to ensure the national carrier remains viable.

“I’ve spoken to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce today and support Qantas’ call for Government intervention.

“The Federal Government cannot leave the fate of Qantas to the market and must explore all avenues to ensure the viability of the airline including in relation to the Foreign Investment Review Board and establishing procurement policies that support the national carrier.

“The Federal Government must provide full economic and social impact statements on the implications of foreign ownership of Australian airlines.

“The situation Qantas finds itself in is in no way related to Industrial Relations, wages and conditions, a point confirmed today by company CEO Alan Joyce.”

So there you go – Alan Joyce and the unions stand as one! Whoever would have thought it?

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Wouldn’t be too worried about Virgin International. Its about as effective as Ansett International was. VA to South Africa flopped. VA to the US is a loss maker. VA to Abu Dhabi is a three day a week joke. In reality Virgin Internationals main forte is a bunch of feeder shorthaul services to various Pacific islands and Bali, many of which nobody else wants to fly anyway. Don’t see QF rushing out new services to Samoa and the Solomon Islands. As far as domestics go the unions are being short sighted. Australia needs VA to force competition and maintain jobs. Its been shown that routes with VA and QF in competition have vastly greater frequencies and lower fares than monopoly routes. Remove VA from the equation and QF would immediately look to increase fares and reduce services thus reducing their aircraft needs and the jobs that are required to support them. Its bad enough we have the duopoly of Coles and Woolies controlling our retail sector but imagine if only one of these survived and not both?

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