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‘What about us?’ Workers slam Qantas on tax and pay

February 16, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Rolling in money after posting record-breaking profits for the past two financial years, Qantas has not paid any corporate tax for close to 10 years – and some workers are getting pretty indignant, saying the airline always pockets its profits rather than increasing wages.

An investigation by the ABC into tax paid by major corporates claimed to show that not one of Australia’s biggest airlines has paid corporate tax since at least 2013. In that category are Virgin and its subsidiary Tigerair, along with Etihad, Emirates and Qatar.

When asked for an explanation, the ABC said that both Qantas and Virgin pointed to their historical losses “and the entirely legitimate use of Australia’s tax laws that allow them to offset those losses against future profits indefinitely”.

Both airlines pointed out they had continued to collect and pay departure taxes, fuel and alcohol excises, payroll tax, GST and FBT.

“The airlines are typical of highly competitive industries where losses are frequent and capital investment is hugely expensive,” the ABC said.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce is one of the most prominent supporters of the Turnbull Government’s proposed big business tax cut. Meanwhile, Qantas continues to invest. See: Qantas and other big Australian businesses are investing regardless of tax cuts


Alan Joyce

ABC analysis reveals Qantas is not alone – its tax behaviour is on par with about 380 of Australia’s biggest companies. One in five of the country’s largest companies have paid no tax for at least the past three years.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) has called out Qantas on a similar issue, alleging the company always pockets its profits in preference to increasing wages.

ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said that during one of the most profitable periods in Qantas’ history, it had frozen wages for the past two years while handing over massive executive salary and bonuses.

“When it comes to company profits, it never trickles down – it always trickles up in the form of higher executive bonuses for the super-rich like Alan Joyce,” White said.

“Qantas workers have seen pay-rises of less than 3% on average over the past decade, and even these were only delivered by fighting hard through their union.

“While many Qantas workers struggle to make ends meet with the increasing cost of living and stagnating wages, we’ve seen the CEO’s salary balloon to almost AUD 100,000 a day – much more than most workers earn in a year.

“We’ve also seen the number of Australians employed in Qantas slashed with 5000 jobs slashed or off-shored in 2014 and another 55 jobs due to be sent to New Zealand this year.

“If we wait for a corporate tax cuts to trickle down to Qantas workers, we’ll be waiting a long, long time.”

White challenged Joyce to tell workers how much will trickle down to them if Government gives Qantas favourable policies like tax cuts.

“If Qantas actually believes a corporate tax cut will benefit their workers, I challenge them to tell us today – how much will the pay rise be?”

Written by Peter Needham

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