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TWU says Qantas didn’t consult with staff over mandatory jabs

written by Adam Thorn | August 18, 2021
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. (IATA/Flickr)
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. (IATA/Flickr)

The TWU has accused Qantas of failing to consult with its workers before announcing that COVID vaccination would soon be mandatory for all staff.

The union said employees are still concerned about the difficulties in accessing a jab or losing pay as a result of taking time off.

Qantas, however, said earlier that 89 per cent of its staff had either been inoculated or were planning to be, and a survey revealed three-quarters of employees supported the decision.

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The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the “snap announcement” was completely void of a plan.

“Qantas has jumped the gun yet again ahead of the Attorney General’s roundtable today of ACTU and employer associations on vaccination take up,” said Kaine.

“Workers have spoken out about the difficulties they’ve faced accessing the vaccine, but Qantas has refused to listen. Qantas’ own survey shows vaccine hesitancy is extremely low, yet Qantas has pushed ahead with another unilateral decision that will heap unnecessary stress onto workers.

“Qantas knows that workers are worried about losing out on pay or shifts that could earn them penalty rates while trying to get vaccinated and recovering from side effects.

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“This means nothing to Alan Joyce, who enjoyed an $11 million pay packet last year but means everything to workers who’ve been dragged through hell and battled with uncertainty and the prospect of financial ruin over the last 18 months.

“If Qantas truly had health and safety in mind, it would be offering support to workers and ensuring rapid testing of passengers and crew is put in place to prevent the risk of spread on planes.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Qantas said that from 15 November 2021 it will mandate cabin crew, pilots and airport ground workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID, while the remaining workforce will have until 31 March 2022 to get the jab.

Qantas noted that there will be exemptions offered to those who are unable to receive the vaccine “for documented medical reasons”, which the airline expects to be a “very rare” instance.

The policy applies to staff across both its Qantas and Jetstar brands, and the decision was made following consultation with employees across both airlines.

According to Qantas, 89 per cent of employees had already been vaccinated or are planning to be, at the time of the survey, while just 4 per cent were unwilling or unable.

Around three-quarters of respondents agreed that vaccination should be a requirement for all employees, and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated, Qantas said.

Announcing the policy, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, “Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to.

“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us.”

Qantas has long held the view that vaccines would be mandatory for all passengers aboard international flights, and recently called for compulsory vaccination for all aviation workers, due to the fact that they “come into contact with thousands of people each day.”

“Ever since a COVID-19 vaccine was approved the Qantas Group has strongly encouraged our people to get vaccinated and are offering paid time off to get the jab,” said the airline in a statement. “We’ve also lobbied government for priority access to the vaccine for aviation workers.

“We’ve done this not just because vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures, but because they are proven to be one of the strongest layers of protection against the potentially serious heath impact of this virus.”

The airline has also introduced a slew of prizes and incentives to customers who get vaccinated, as the airline works to push up the country’s vaccination rates in an ambitious bid to see Australia’s international borders reopen by the end of this year.

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5 Comments

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I would have thought that the TWU would have been delighted that an employer was clearly trying to protect both staff and customers but then, whatever QF tries to do, the TWU would object. What was the name of the ginger beers union?
    ALAEA, they had a similar agenda, disruption.

  • Vannus

    says:

    TWU causing problems’ for QANTAS….yet again.

    CEO MR Alan Joyce gets paid his salary for his job, which includes stopping thuggish unions’ from destroying his airline.

    Don’t hear them targeting any other business which has decided to make vax mandatory, ONLY Qantas.
    They’re just a mob of losers’, s*^+ stirring constantly to try, & stay relevant.

    It’s a ‘vendetta’ by them since 2011, against the Airline.

    The people who flew, when that was possible, are sick & tired of unions’ bleating non-stop, they were the cause of massive inconvenience with their snap-strikes’, sometimes daily, with loss of millions’ $ for the company, but do they care….not one jot.
    The union bosses’ still get paid their huge salaries’, no matter the disruption.

  • Clipped Wing

    says:

    As a current employee I can confirm that consultation with employees had taken place in the form of the survey. This was open for a few weeks and staff were encouraged a number of times by email, text and through other various channels to provide feedback on this. The survey received a large response, with the vast majority in agreement for vaccination being a requirement of employment. In saying this, my understanding is that there is still further consultation with various entities (including the unions) on this before it becomes policy.
    I feel that the company has provided opportunities for employees (where applicable) to be vaccinated. Further to this, there is a Covid-19 Support policy (widely advised within the business) that you can attend vaccination appointments in paid hours, as well as leave policy for absence linked with Covid-19.
    The information rolled out to employees yesterday advised that Qantas will look at vaccination hubs for employees, and that the timelines set out in the proposed policy are within Government timelines, and will be subject to change if the access/availability changes.
    With Covid-19 currently decimating the aviation industry, one would think that the TWU would look to jump on board with this and encourage everyone to be vaccinated. The unions over the decades have done a wonderful job in assisting and implementing a number of things for the benefit of employees. They way they have fought for the Ground Operations staff’s jobs has to be commended. However it seems that Michael Kaine and the TWU’s sole purpose is to argue and fight Qantas over every policy, regardless of whether it is beneficial or not.
    Vaccination is a part of getting rid of Covid (or at least the severity of it) as well as lockdowns. This will get staff either back in the air, the terminals, the office or warehouse floor. Maybe when picking up the phone, Mr Kaine should contact Qantas to discuss these matters before racing to get his name in the press.

  • Brian

    says:

    The 89% is not counting all staff only 12 thousand that did the Qantas survey witch is less than half of our staff. So it’s 89% of 12 thousand.
    But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    • Vannus

      says:

      ….’witch’?….try ‘which’ instead, which makes more sense, in your sentence.
      You sound like you’re more ‘for’ the union, than for the Company which employs, & pays you, Brian.

      When QANTAS has surveyed staff on a particular matter, is has always been a goodly number based here.
      89% of 12000 people is still well representative.

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