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TWU brands Qantas ‘spiteful’ after axing jobs

written by Adam Thorn | November 30, 2020

The TWU has called Qantas’ decision to outsource 2,000 ground handling jobs “spiteful” after the airline rejected a proposal from the union to keep the roles in-house.

“Qantas has spent hundreds of millions in training these workers up over decades to achieve high standards and the idea of pushing them out the door to replace them with less trained workers on lower conditions is sickening,” said national secretary Michael Kaine.

On Monday, Qantas confirmed it had rejected the TWU’s alternative proposal because it claimed it didn’t save enough money compared with rival offers from third-party providers and was too “theoretical”.

Qantas’ plans, first mooted in August, will 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.

On Monday, Kaine said the TWU’s failed bid, compiled with consulting firm EY, was “thorough and competitive”.


“Qantas workers have worked hard over recent months with EY to find millions of dollars in cost savings and efficiencies. EY advised us our bid was competitive in comparison to other contractors. To reject its own workers like this is spiteful and will hurt the airline deeply,” Kaine said.

“Qantas has spent hundreds of millions in training these workers up over decades to achieve high standards and the idea of pushing them out the door to replace them with less trained workers on lower conditions is sickening.

“Families across Australia are now facing a grim Christmas where the future lies at the end of a Centrelink queue.

“To suggest this bid and its cost savings was ‘theoretical’ is an absolute insult to the time and effort which has been put in by workers. The reference to theoretical was the theoretical Qantas flying time schedule which all bids were based on.”

Qantas, however, said the TWU’s proposal didn’t meet its objective, which it cited as reducing the coast of ground handling operations by $100 million and avoiding large spending on equipment such as aircraft tugs and baggage loaders.

“Qantas granted three separate extensions to the original deadline for the bid following requests by the TWU, doubling the total period to 12 weeks,” the business said in a statement.

“Their resulting national bid was, by their own admission, ‘theoretical’ with no roadmap of how projected cost savings would be achieved. For instance, the proposal resulted in 1 million surplus labour hours – or around 900 roles – but no details on how to deal with that surplus.  It also did not meet the objectives relating to capital expenditure on ground services equipment nor matching the ground handling services (and their cost) to fluctuating levels of demand.”

Qantas Domestic and International chief executive Andrew David said, “This is another tough day for Qantas, particularly for our ground handling teams and their families. We thank every one of them for their professionalism and contribution over the years supporting our customers and operations.”

Jetstar, meanwhile, has already decided to outsource ground handling at the six remaining Australian airports – Adelaide, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Sydney Domestic – leading to 370 job losses.

In June, the wider Qantas group said it would cut 6,000 jobs altogether, or nearly 20 per cent of its workforce, before it later revealed the news around ground handling jobs.

The drastic cuts followed the business’ full-year financial results showing a loss before tax of $2.7 billion and an underlying profit before tax of just $124 million.

Virgin, meanwhile, went into administration before cutting 3,000 jobs and axing the Tigerair brand.

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Comments (5)

  • Graeme


    TWU claims ‘100’s of millions’ $ spent on training ground handling staff.
    REALLY? It doesn’t take much training to chuck a suitcase from ground to pallet to plane hold & reverse at destination.
    Not too much training needed driving catering truck, & loading its’ pallets’ onto a scissor lift, to offload said goods’ into aircraft galleys’.
    Not a complicated job by any means for them.

    Where the many, many $ get spent on training with an Airline is in areas’ that are quite complex, of which there are several, & with the top training being for Technical Crew, of course.

    Yet another example of a union not having a clue how QANTAS works.

  • William


    Or is the spiteful reaction still to come?

  • CJ


    so if Qantas are saving $100 million a year with 2,000 staff gone, that’s $50,000 per employee savings per year, so if the same number of employees as contractors, they are being paid $50,000 less per year.

    It was suggested on another forum, that baggage handlers were getting $100,000 per year. Many doctors don’t earn that much. No wonder Qantas had to get rid of them. Don’t think contractors will get any staff travel benefits either.

  • Craigy


    If anyone has been spiteful, it is the TWU. Remember comrade Sheldon’s words that they would do Qantas slowly when Joyce had to ground the airline to stop the damage.

  • Blake


    Yes, Craigy you’re correct.

    QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce & the Board had to do something, as his staff at Airports’ were being physically & verbally abused, by passengers’ from August to October, 2011 because of the disgraceful thuglike actions of the TWU, & other unions’, striking nearly every day.

    QANTAS Reservations & Ticketing staff were being sworn at, being called foul names, & being physically attacked by passengers’, too, for the same reasons’ as above, for the whole THREE months’.

    This was totally unacceptable to Mr Joyce, & the QANTAS Board, so something HAD to be done, & they did it. It took huge intestinal fortitude, but the QF bosses’ showed it. His staff were so grateful for his actions’.
    It sure taught the unions’ to pull their heads’ in.

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