Qantas has denied accusations made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) that it discriminated against 14 casual female employees at Sydney Airport by not offering them permanent positions.
The ACTU alleges that Qantas discriminated against the staff, who were employed to clean and restock aircraft after fights, by denying them the opportunity to apply for 47 permanent positions created when it merged the functions with its ramp and baggage handling operations at Sydney Airport. It says that the women were denied training for the new jobs, despite similar training provided to some male ramp workers, which prevented them for applying for the permanent positions.
Qantas Group executive government and corporate affairs David Epstein said it was the airline’s obligation to always protect the jobs of its permanent workforce and this is what was done. “Qantas had employed the group, comprising women and men, on temporary fixed term contracts in late 2008/early 2009 to provide aircraft cleaning services in Sydney.
“However the loss of a third party aircraft cleaning and ground handling contract with another airline meant our labour needs were reduced and it was not possible to retain these staff. This, unfortunately, is the reality of the airline business.”
A Fair Work Australia commissioner has recommended that the two parties return to talks over the issue before it goes further.