A 30-year Qantas veteran currently undergoing radiotherapy for cancer is among a group of workers taking the airline to the Federal Court today to try and reverse its decision to deny sick leave during stand down.
Other claimants, represented by the TWU, include a man with 35 years’ service awaiting a triple bypass.
Qantas has argued its staff can’t use their sick leave because the entitlement depends on work available to be absent from.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine called the decision a “heartless act”.
The cancer sufferer first began working for the airline in 1989 and was due to start seven weeks of treatment on 5 April.
He said the decision to deny him the leave, which he had already accrued, has caused stress to both himself and his family.
The second employee mentioned is on a waiting list for a triple bypass heart surgery, and has also accrued enough to cover his absence. He started his service with Qantas in late 1984, and claims to have rarely been unwell in that time.
Qantas has said, “Employees are not eligible to receive paid sick leave while they are stood down. Entitlement to paid sick leave is dependent on there being work for employees to be absent from, which is not the case during the period of the stand-down.”
“It is an utter disgrace that Qantas workers, some of whom have worked with the company for several decades and are now battling very serious illnesses, have been refused sick leave in this way,” said Kaine.
“They will struggle financially and this will pile pressures and stress on them and their families, making it more difficult for them to focus on getting better. It is a heartless act and we appeal to Qantas to acknowledge the anxiety this is causing sick workers and to reconsider its actions.”