TWU members protested at Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide airports today at Qantas’ decision to potentially cut a further 2,500 jobs.
National Secretary Michael Kaine continued to insist that chief executive Alan Joyce should quit, with the union comparing the $100 million that the airline claims the move will save a year, to the $24 million the executive was paid pre-pandemic.
“The money Qantas says it will save through outsourcing these jobs is around four times what they paid their CEO Alan Joyce last year,” said Kaine. “So 2,500 workers are being sacrificed at the height of a pandemic by a company which has made an art form out of greed.”
The Qantas brand is proposing to outsource its ground handling operations at the 10 Australian airports where the work is done in-house, costing up to 2,000 jobs, while Jetstar has already decided to outsource ground handling at its six remaining in-house airports, costing 370 roles.
The socially-distanced protest also saw appearances from Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and NSW ALP deputy leader Yasmin Catley.
Kaine, though, claimed it was wrong for Qantas to claim JobKeeper money for workers before then outsourcing them.
“Taxpayers have been ripped off and Qantas workers have been left high and dry,” he said. “The Prime Minister said the point of JobKeeper was to keep the connection between employers and workers.
“Yet Qantas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in wage subsidies and now wants to outsource jobs that it admits still exists. This is a gross violation of the intent of JobKeeper and we are urging the federal government to take an equity stake in the airline to protect taxpayers’ interests.”
After announcing the surprise cuts on Tuesday, Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said, “We realise this decision will be extremely difficult news for our ground handling team and their families at what is already a very challenging time.
“Every major airline around the world uses these specialist providers to support their operations. These ground handlers provide these services to many airlines at airports, rather than just one, and provide scalable resources, which makes them very cost-effective.”
The news comes a week after the wider company blamed a “near-total collapse in travel demand” for recording a statutory loss before tax of $2.7 billion for the last financial year.