The TWU has appeared to hint its relationship with new Virgin owner Bain is on the rocks by refusing to praise the investors’ announcement on Tuesday that it will pump $3.5 billion into the airline.
National secretary Michael Kaine then said the new business would only be successful “if the skills, experience and dedication of its workers are recognised as a valuable asset, not an expense”.
Australian Aviation understands the union’s relationship with Bain is unravelling because of its refusal to dismiss speculation former Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka could be the new chairman.
Hrdlicka had a notoriously fraught relationship with unions in her role at the Qantas Group.
The new comments are significant given the business’ employees together account for 9,020 of the total number of creditors and are owed $451 million.
While Bain beat out Cyrus Capital Partners in May to become the administrator’s preferred bidder for the airline, the decision won’t be rubber-stamped until a final creditors meeting in early September, with the TWU’s backing likely to be crucial.
“Today is another significant day for Virgin and its thousands of workers,” said Kaine. “The creditors’ report details the promises Bain Capital has made in its proposal to take over Virgin and will be voted on next week. We will meet workers and discuss the next steps.
“Our focus remains on making sure workers and the travelling public are at the forefront of planning for the airline’s future. We remain united with other Virgin unions on this aim.”
Kaine’s comments follow a statement to the ASX and media on Tuesday morning in which Bain finally confirmed the full details of its offer to take control of the airline.
It revealed unsecured creditors, including bondholders, will receive between just nine and 13 cents in the dollar on their investment. It also reiterated earlier promises that all employee entitlements will be paid in full.
Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge, who has overseen the administration process, said the deal represents an “excellent outcome” for Virgin Australia.
“This will provide certainty for the business under new and committed owners. It provides certainty for employees and customers. It provides a return to creditors. And it can be completed sooner, and at less cost to creditors.”