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Pilots and other Qantas workers round on management

February 28, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The Australian Government should demand a coherent plan for growth from Qantas management in exchange for taxpayer support, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) said today.

AIPA, one of the country’s most moderate unions, was speaking after the devastating Qantas result and staff cuts delivered yesterday.

“Qantas management has today outlined a demolition job, but failed to follow through with a strategy for how it will grow the business and serve the national interest,” AIPA President Nathan Safe said.

“The Federal Government should be twisting management’s arm to be open and honest about where it is heading. Otherwise, it is like supporting a plan to bulldoze half a house before the blueprints to rebuild have been drawn.

“We know that this Qantas management is adept at dramatic announcements, but has a patchier record when it comes to following through with a coherent long-term plan for improvement and growth. That is what the government should be demanding, not just swingeing cuts.”

Safe said it was vital that management did not attempt to whitewash over how the company arrived at this position.

“Put aside fringe issues and focus on the key reasons the company has been going backward rapidly and you will find it has been due to misguided management decisions: poor aircraft choices, distracting investment in risky offshore ventures, bad strategic choices, and terrible brand management,” Safe said.

“If the Australian Government wants Qantas to turn all this around then it has to force management to confront the misguided approach taken in recent years. TICBanner

“If management is allowed to simply make excuses then it cannot improve its performance.”

More militant unions, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU) accused Qantas of punishing the workers for poor business decisions made by Joyce and his team – though some of the aircraft purchasing decisions that are haunting Qantas precede Joyce’s tenure.

The ASU labelled the Qantas decision to shed 5000 full time workers across the Qantas Group as short sighted. It vowed to fight “for each and every job”.

The ASU is the largest union operating in the Qantas Group, covering around one third of the airline’s Australian staff including in Jetstar and QantasLink. It represents workers in airport check-in, head office, administration and finance, call centres, freight and engineering clerical workers and administrative, operations and technical staff.

ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said that the Qantas announcement was devastating for the hard working staff of Qantas and its subsidiaries.

“It’s outrageous that so many Qantas (and Jetstar) staff are going to bear the brunt of the poor business decisions made by Qantas in recent times.

“Qantas have suggested they will seek to freeze wages until they achieve a full year underlying profit. This is an indefinite claim, and front line staff will have no influence over this outcome. It’s punishing the workers for the poor business decisions made by Alan Joyce.”

Victorian ASU Secretary Ingrid Stitt criticised the decision to shed thousands of jobs from the Qantas group and in particular from the Victorian economy already reeling from recent job losses.

“ASU members across the company are front line staff. They’re in customer service, call centres and at check-in desks and in support roles across the airline group.

“These are the people who make Qantas the company that it is today. They are the reason you fly Qantas and Jetstar.

“Today’s decision shows a disregard for the loyal hard-working staff who have helped make the Qantas brand so successful. Wages and conditions are not the problem at Qantas, and Qantas should not look to punish working people for the poor business nous of the management group.

“ASU members across the Qantas group earn modest wages and have always been prepared to adapt to make the airline more efficient. They do not deserve to wear the brunt of poor management decisions.

“Qantas is putting their reputation and the satisfaction of Australian customers on the line with today’s announcement,” Stitt said

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said Qantas was destroying its own future with cuts to profitable operations and a fire sale of planes, terminals and routes.

“Qantas has today announced 5000 job losses, a fire sale of planes and terminals and the abandonment of profitable routes and activities,” he said

“Yet the airline retains 65% market share and even the Qantas CEO has acknowledged workforce productivity has risen by 22%.

“The Qantas workforce is universally acknowledged as lean, productive and loyal.

“Each baggage handler, check-in staff and ramp worker generates a AUD 205,000 return to Qantas above the cost of their employment.

“Sacking them is like a tradesman selling his tools to pay a one-off bill.”

Sheldon said the TWU would be speaking with members about responses to the Board’s announcement.

“Disgracefully, we have also seen Federal Ministers cheering on the sacking of Australian workers and a reduction in family incomes,” Mr Sheldon said.

“What sort of Federal Government is this, that offers funding to companies only if they cut jobs and lower family incomes?

“If Qantas needs to make savings it should stop siphoning funds to the failing Jetstar Asia, and return those proceeds to Qantas International and Domestic here in Australia.”

Sheldon said the only recent growth in Qantas had been executive pay.

“Qantas executive salaries have risen 82% since 2010. Yet the share price has fallen to its lowest point in 20 years,” he said.

“No Qantas Group dividends are being paid and in 2013 Qantas shares were downgraded to ‘junk’ status. Qantas has a poor management record for an airline with a 65% domestic market share and no losses prior to the current Board strategy.

“This airline does not need industrial warfare or more global shutdowns. It needs a management who put the health of the airline first.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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