The TWU has called on Qantas to halt its planned job losses until the government makes a decision on whether to extend its JobKeeper initiative.
National secretary Michael Kaine said, “The Qantas CEO is very good at walking the halls of Canberra when it suits his agenda, yet he is quick to cut jobs and hang workers out to dry.”
The JobKeeper initiative is due to expire on 27 September, though the Prime Minister has hinted it could be extended for selected industries. A decision is expected at the end of this month.
In a withering attack on the business and the government, Kaine said, “Before Qantas slashed thousands of workers’ jobs and takes more of its planes down to the pawn shop, it should be lobbying the federal government for an extension to JobKeeper and financial support to allow the airline to weather the crisis.
“We have been calling on the government for months to step in with a national plan for aviation and they have refused. It is because of government restrictions that aviation was grounded to a halt, yet the assistance and assurances have been paltry.
“Qantas is now making hasty decisions to slash jobs which will affect thousands of families while Virgin is still limping along. Today the IMF is warning Australia’s plans for a good recovery must be accompanied by a careful withdrawal of support.
“Because the government is refusing to provide any certainty past September, we are seeing the aviation industry go into free-fall.”
Previously, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised the scheme will be reviewed at the end of June, and also hinted it could be extended to more vulnerable industries.
“The review will provide an opportunity to see how the program is going and the experience on the ground and to make any amendments that are necessary,” he said.
“When you move a program as quickly as this, then you anticipate that there will be some anomalies and issues that need to be addressed along the way.”
The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.
The companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.
More generally, the scheme has proved problematic for much of the aviation industry.
Many airport workers are locked out of the financial package because their firms are council-owned; while staff at dnata were similarly told they were no longer eligible because their company is owned by a foreign government.