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Air NZ is more generous on bonuses say Qantas pilots

September 3, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Qantas pilots have added their voice to widespread expressions of anger and dismay over provisos in the Qantas ‘bonus’ scheme for workers in the wake of the airline’s recently announced record profit – contrasting it with the generosity of Air New Zealand in the same circumstances.

Qantas recently announced a AUD 1.6 billion record profit – but instead of distributing bonuses to reward its workers, it has attempted to tie the payment of a AUD 2000 bonus to the signing of new enterprise agreements. Critics say the Qantas stance removes any connection between the bonus and employee efforts to achieve the record result.

As unions pointed out last week, some workers will never get the Qantas bonus. Staff covered by EBAs (Enterprise Bargaining Agreements) won’t see the money until after 30 June 2020 when a new EBA is agreed. Some will leave before then. QCatering staff – whose business has been sold off to Emirates dnata – will not get the bonus as the sale date and transfer is later this year. See: Union fury over Qantas ‘bonus sting’ after huge profit

In marked contrast, Air New Zealand, shortly after achieving the second-best result in its history, handed out staff bonuses last week to 8500 permanent employees. They each received up to NZD 1800.

Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) president Murray Butt, contrasted Air New Zealand’s gesture to the Qantas attitude, which he called a “low point for Qantas Industrial Relations in my 32 years at Qantas”.

Butt said that despite its title, the Qantas “2018 Record Result Bonus” was more about attempting to influence behaviour during enterprise bargaining, than rewarding employees for their efforts.

“As pilots struggle to cover the failure to get pilot numbers right, Qantas’ answer on how they value this effort is astonishing. The fact the bonus is not payable till after certification of the next Enterprise Agreement means pilots whose efforts contributed to the bonus but leave prior to this time, will not receive the bonus.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon announces staff bonuses, amid news of pre-tax earnings of NZD 540 million


“In other words, there is no connection between your efforts in achieving the ‘Record Result’ and the bonus,” Butt told AIPA members.

Butt said AIPA member feedback on the Qantas announcement had been “universally condemning”.

He said he had attended an ACTU meeting last week with other Qantas Unions “and the one clear message was that Qantas has got this very wrong.

“The warning that ‘if one or more employees engage in any form of conduct that harms the Qantas Group’ then ‘all employees in the relevant workgroup will lose eligibility for the Bonus’ with no definition of what constitutes harm, is a threat of the broadest terms and a low point for Qantas Industrial Relations in my 32 years at Qantas.’

“In AIPA’s view, any bonus that recognises hard work in delivering a record result should apply equally to all employees. Anything else is disingenuous.”

Butt ended his statement with a footnote titled HOW TO TREAT YOUR STAFF, which linked to a New Zealand Herald article about Air New Zealand’s second highest ever profit with bonuses for staff.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said last week that thousands of Qantas workers had endured a pay freeze imposed by the company across successive enterprise agreements dating back to 2014.

“Since then, the company’s profitability has soared to last week’s record levels. Senior executive salary packages have also grown; the 2017 annual report putting the value of senior executive packages at AUD 53 million.

“It is only through the dedication and effort of the Qantas workforce that we have seen the airline lift its financial performance,” ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said.

“When companies perform well, workers deserve their fair share. We need a fairer bargaining system that delivers for working people.

“Australia needs a pay rise. Qantas workers need a pay rise.”

Written by Peter Needham

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