Unions refuse to criticise Bain for Virgin cuts

written by Adam Thorn | August 5, 2020
Virgin Australia and Tigerair planes (Virgin Group)

Unions have refused to criticise ‘winning’ Virgin bidder Bain for its plan to axe 3,000 roles and scrap the Tigerair brand.

In particular, the TWU has said that while the announcement would lead to a “difficult day” for affected employees, the decision to avoid becoming a solely low-cost carrier was “broadly positive”.

“The notion that Virgin could survive as a competitor to Jetstar and others at the lower end of the market was entirely baseless and something that Virgin workers have opposed strenuously,” said national secretary Michael Kaine.

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“We are pleased that this idea has been sidelined with common sense prevailing that this would only have played into the hands of Virgin’s competitors.”

The backing will come as a huge relief to Bain Capital, given that its bid to take control has still yet to be rubber-stamped by creditors, many of which are the airline’s staff. Already, the investors know they will face a rival offer from bondholders at the meeting in late August.

Meanwhile, the Association for Virgin Australia Group Pilots (VIPA) predicted the “devastating” job losses would affect 400 of the 1,400 remaining pilots. It focused its criticism at the federal government for refusing to do more.

“The knock-on effect this decision will have on the economy is significant; including future skills shortages, loss of technical experience and the inability to retain skilled Australian pilots,” VIPA president John Lyons said.

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“The federal government has let down these Virgin employees and the Australian aviation industry as a whole by not providing specific support, as well as the travelling public – this is the exact opposite action that governments in the US, UK and Europe have taken.”

It added that the organisation will continue to “maintain pressure on Bain to keep its commitment to establish and fund Virgin Australia as a sustainable and successful business if required during recovery”.

Finally, the Australian Services Union (ASU) said the “staggering” number of axed roles “cripples the industry”.

“This is absolutely devastating for Virgin workers – about one in three workers will be made unemployed at the height of this crisis when it is hardest to find work,” said assistant national secretary Linda White.

“It is only because of the hard work of the union in the past few months during the administration process that workers are guaranteed their entitlements in full.

“We will continue to work every hour of every day to preserve as many jobs as possible – starting with our meetings with the company today.

“As the new owners of Virgin, Bain needs to uphold all their commitments on how the airline will run – we will be making that clear in discussions today and in the coming weeks.”

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4 Comments

  • Edward

    says:

    What’s changed unions’ minds?
    They were quick enough to criticise Bain folk for having a ‘celebratory dinner’ a few weeks’ ago, now when jobs are on the line, they don’t. Fishy or what?
    What’s going on behind closed doors’ currently is anybody’s guess.
    The final outcome could prove very interesting.

  • When will the Unions realise they have bought into a pigs ear not a silk purse. On current numbers based on the valuation of Virgin Velocity at over $2 billion with an airline attached basically Bain will have stolen Virgin Australia hence when smart people do the numbers the bondholders offer to keep VA as an Australian listed company, hence Australian owned rather than US owned, and inject proper working capital and convert their bond value into shares the Bain bargain basement price is exposed.
    I certainly wouldn’t want Deloitte to sell my garden shed let alone my car.

  • Tim Tom

    says:

    The comment from VIPA that the government let Virgin down. Really. How about all the EBA’s that make a profitable airline operation unacheivable…

  • Graham

    says:

    How did Virgin Australia get into the ridiculous situation where it was in debt for over $800,000 per employee before it collapsed? It had not made a profit for 9 years and money was just bleeding away. This was not a recent problem.

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