The TWU is marking Qantas’ 100th birthday by holding protests against the business’ proposal to outsource ground handling jobs.
The action is taking place throughout the day in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and outside the Sydney Opera House.
It comes alongside the release of a video of TWU members declaring, “We are the spirit of Australia” alongside the airline’s anthem I Still Call Australia Home.
Last month, Qantas announced thousands more jobs are at risk because the business is considering outsourcing its remaining ground-handling operations, subject to hearing bids from both private contractors as well as in-house staff.
Qantas’ plans would see the airline brand remove operations at the 10 Australian airports where the work is done in-house, which includes Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville.
However, before a final decision is made, the company is giving staff the chance to compile an in-house bid to rival those made by external organisations.
The TWU, however, has concerns over that process and even took Qantas to a Fair Work Commission tribunal where it argued employees haven’t been given enough time to prepare their alternative proposal.
The organisation also enlisted the heavyweight lawyer who helped win the infamous Waterfront dispute to challenge the action, and hired Ernst & Young to “assess the criteria and conditions” Qantas is setting for workers to bid.
Qantas has repeatedly defended the decision to review its ground-handling operations and believes outsourcing could save the business up to $100 million a year.
“The TWU’s allegation disrespects the process of the review, which is open to an in-house bid by Qantas airports staff,” said an airline spokesperson. “We are currently responding to the biggest crisis the aviation industry has ever seen and must take drastic action in order to survive. This includes looking at every opportunity to make our operations more efficient.”
In September, the TWU split opinion among Australian Aviation readers by gathering outside Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s private home to protest and hand-deliver a letter.
The union’s campaign chief, Emily McMillan, said the intervention was necessary because “there’s no way else to communicate with him”.