TWU targets Joyce’s salary in job cut protests

written by Adam Thorn | August 27, 2020

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.

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  • Paul


    These unions are a joke. When covid first hit Joyce announced a 100% salary cut for himself until June. Now he is on a 40% or more pay cut. All publicly announced – but of course they do not read these articles. How many union bosses have announced a pay cut for themselves?

  • Its about time that the TWU realised the game is up on protecting feather bedding in conditions in bad and good times. Gone are the days of protecting gang and shift levels by bringing people in on overtime when the work isn’t there. Throughout the Australian aviation industry it isn’t about the paid wage it is about the cost burden of feather bedded conditions. That is why Qantas has to put the work in the hands of specialist handlers. If the TWU were smart they would have seen this coming and sat with QF/JQ and started to look at the featherbedding before it all ended. It is a hangover from practices on the wharves before containerisation and flowed over onto the airports decades ago.

  • John McDonald


    Sick of Michael Kaine’s constant reference to job keeper, he cried for job keeper to be extended, now he’s saying that Qantas shouldn’t of given his members job keeper. A total nut case of a union leader.

  • Paul Robson


    Agree TWU stupid not to see this coming and negotiate with Qantas.

    Unfortunately what happens with outsourcing, is we go from workers on better than average conditions, to workers doing the same job, on way less conditions!

  • Dennis


    Do these moronic & militant unions REALLY believe that QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce, & the Board are going to listen to them? They sure put a stop to their hundred’s of strikes Aug-Oct 2011!
    The leaders’ can’t call staff out on strikes’ because the ‘planes are not flying. That’s taken away any perceived power they might’ve had.
    Everybody’s fed up to the back teeth with Kaine & his cohorts, as they’re now irrelevant, & their ‘song book’ is well & truly out of tune.
    Go away & get a real job! (As if any business person would want to employ HIM!)

  • Max


    “feather bedding”, please don’t tell me that this outrageous claim was written by a senior Qantas captain, whilst smoking his favourite Cuban and sipping his cognac from his humble Vaucluse abode.

  • Pete


    Clearly none of the above comments work for the airline . They have been wanting to do this for years only now they can hide behind covid excuse other than tightening the belts excuse ! Yes they are loosing money but hey if you can completely destroy an Unionised workforce it looks real good for the share price and the holder. The jobkeeper entitlements have been abused by qantas since the start of its introduction, employees who are constantly stood down then back up again are having the penalties earned from the previous working week subsidised by jobkeeper payments in the next stood down week . For time worked it should be seperate to the jobkeeper payment. Jobkeeper is their for the employees who are stood down and to keep them in contact with the company. Without the Unions, Qantas is running rampant.

  • Neal Keenan


    Agree unions are past their use by date its scandalous

  • Tom Mercer


    Please spare us the union bashing.

    Labour hire has been on show with ground handling for a while now and the reality is not pretty. Split shifts are common where people are brought in for a few hours, then turned off for a couple and then brought back in for another few hours before they can commute home. As most of us don’t live close to work they are stuck, and either sleep in their cars or at the nearest fast food restraunt between their work stints.
    This leads to high churn rates and abuse of supplied ground support equipment which raises costs.

    If nothing else Covid has shown how badly the casualisation of the workforce has hurt the economy and forced many more people onto government payments than should have been the case.

    I have been self employed, worked in small business and now big business and I can see first hand how far the Fair Work Act has tilted in favour of the employer. I don’t want to see a return to the bad old days of Christmas beer strikes but the average PAYE employee has no leverage anymore. Hopefully cooler heads than you lot will prevail and we will get a reasonable IR system on the other side!

  • JM


    As a pilot who was once a ground handler, I can tell you that you get EXACTLY what you pay for. The conditions for these contractors are so poor that they can barely afford the travel to the airport. Turnover is huge, with less than half the crew turning up for many shifts, especially weekends, causing delays. Then they rush to meet turn-around times with half the staff, leading to accidents. They don’t report accidents, fearing they’ll lose their (casual) shifts. So sure, outsource, but cost savings will come with considerable extra risk.

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