The TWU has revealed that 78 per cent of outsourced Qantas ground workers wish to return to their jobs at the airline, in a survey now submitted to the Federal Court as evidence ahead of a remedy hearing next month.
It comes after the TWU in July won its landmark case against Qantas, when the Federal Court ruled the airline’s decision to outsource 2,000 ground services workers was made in partial violation of the Fair Work Act.
From 13 December, the Federal Court will begin hearing evidence before deciding whether or not to order the reinstatement of the 2,000 ground workers, including baggage handlers and cleaners, whose roles were outsourced earlier in the year.
As part of the hearing, the TWU – representing the outsourced workers – has been requested to present at least three case studies highlighting the personal effect of Qantas’ outsourcing decision, as well as a survey detailing the preferred outcomes of the ground workers involved.
The TWU has today released the results of the independent survey, which accounted for more than 1,500 workers, representing approximately 82 per cent of the total number of affected Qantas employees.
Of these workers, 78 per cent stated that they would prefer to be reinstated to their previous roles at Qantas.
“Many workers gave decades of hard work, dedication and loyalty to Qantas. Despite everything, they want to put this awful period behind them and get back to doing their jobs safely and professionally,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
“We are appealing to the Qantas board to reverse this enormous misstep. Dragging families through the trauma of an appeal is wrong. Refusing to return skilled workers to Qantas is irresponsible for the business and the travelling public. It’s time for the board to make a good decision.
In July, the Federal Court ruled Qantas had violated the Fair Work Act in making the redundancies and largely found in favour of the TWU, which claimed the decision to outsource employees was done partly to prevent them from being able to negotiate a new enterprise agreement and take industrial action. Qantas has consistently denied it has done anything unlawful.
The airline has highlighted that it was “actively recruiting” into its ground handling business and “investing in new equipment” before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, signalling it had no intention to outsource these workers prior.
Qantas has filed an appeal against the initial July ruling, which is expected to be heard in February 2022. The airline is also expected to appeal, should the reinstatement ruling fall in favour of the TWU.
In light of the survey results, the TWU has also penned an open letter to the Qantas board, requesting that the airline drop its appeal of the court ruling, and immediately move to reinstate those ground workers.
“This is your chance as a board member to stand up for those who helped build Qantas and ensure confidence among the Australian community, which has done so much since the start of the pandemic to support Qantas,” the letter, signed by over 3,000 former Qantas staff members and supporters, said.
Since the initial ruling in July, the TWU has continued to push for the airline to reinstate all willing workers back to their roles.
Meanwhile, Qantas has continued to argue that it would likely be impractical and difficult to reinstate all outsourced workers, given that it has now been at least eight months since those workers were let go from Qantas, and also given that the branch they were employed under, Qantas Ground Services, no longer exists.
Both parties will return to court on 13 December to begin remedy hearings, with Justice Michael Lee expected to reach a decision before the end of the year.
“We’re dealing with a very large number of people who need to have some certainty about their lives,” Justice Michael Lee said.
“And I’ve got to do everything I can, it seems to me, to give them certainty as quickly as possible.”
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