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Unions press Qantas to ‘come clean’ on job loss rumours

February 25, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Unions are growing increasingly anxious as Thursday approaches, the day on which Qantas will announce its half-yearly result – possibly accompanied by some momentous announcements.

The unions want Qantas to tell its workers what is in store for them, before proclaiming it to the media on Thursday.

Qantas has already “flagged the need to make tough decisions as part of strengthening our business” including at least 1000 job cuts over the next 12 months.

It could be worse than that. Reports hint at losses of up to 3000, and at least two unions, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU) are bracing for something of that magnitude.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has previously said “all options are on the table”.Events

Such uncertainty is not good for morale. The ASU confirmed yesterday that “many Qantas workers are hearing rumours around their workplace about their future job security”.

An ASU statement said: “It’s widely anticipated that the Qantas group will announce a large loss at the half yearly results due to be announced later this week on Thursday 27 February.

“Unfortunately, recent history has shown that Qantas announces large job losses at these media events and there is plenty of speculation about what will be said.

“We know that senior Qantas executives have been in discussions with the Abbott Government about support for the national carrier. What we don’t know yet is the details of any ‘deal’ that Qantas has struck with the Government and how that may affect the workforce across the Qantas group. There have been suggestions in the media that industrial relations will form part of any ‘deal’ between the airline and the Federal Government.

“The facts are that ASU members at Qantas, Jetstar and the regional airlines have always taken pride in making the airline great.

“The wages and conditions of ASU members are modest and our members have always been prepared to embrace new systems and technology and ways to make the company more efficient and productive.

“Since enterprise bargaining first began in the early 1990s, Qantas workers have shown wage restraint, including agreeing to a wage freeze in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Ansett collapse. It’s these efforts that have helped Qantas become one of the most successful airlines in the world.

“Everyone working in the airline industry understands that the issues facing Qantas are complex. Any attempt to blame hardworking Qantas and Jetstar workers for the position the airline finds itself in today is a political con and we won’t stand for it.”

Transport Workers Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon yesterday renewed his call for Qantas to come clean on its plans for restructuring, after rumours that up to 3000 job losses may be announced on Thursday.

“Qantas staff have heard that these positions would be replaced by casuals from labour hire firms,” Mr Sheldon reiterated.

“These are workers in the profitable arms of the airline, generating a healthy return for the Qantas Group.

“Last week the Qantas CEO tried pandering to Liberal prejudices with promises of industrial war through unspecified “IR reforms” and further outsourcing of Australian jobs.

“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 there were also rumours the Qantas Board will cut country routes, particularly from northern Australia.

“Sacking staff and cutting routes is like a tradesman selling his tools to pay a one-off bill,” Sheldon said.

“Qantas executive salaries have risen 82% since 2010. At the same time the airline recorded a AUD 300m half-year loss, the lowest share price in 20 years and the loss of thousands of jobs.”

Sheldon pointed out that no Qantas Group dividends have been paid for years and last year, the airline’s 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.”

He referred to a 2012 survey of aviation staff that found Qantas rated among the worst for job satisfaction, chances of improvement or communication with staff.

“While proud of their professionalism and the company they work for, less than half of Qantas workers (45%) say they would currently recommend it as an employer,” Sheldon said.

Written by : Peter Needham

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