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Unions say Qantas’ $5k staff bonus is a ‘sham’

written by Adam Thorn | June 27, 2022

Qantas is facing a second row over supposed strong-arm negotiating tactics after a number of aviation unions claimed the airline’s $5,000 bonus to staff was a “bribe”.

The TWU branded the payment — which is only available to employees who agree to new enterprise agreements — a “sham” that was more “wage suppression tactics”.

The airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, has however insisted the payment was made to acknowledge the sacrifices employees have made including long periods of no work or wage increases.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said, “For Joyce, this tactic kills two birds with one stone: distract the angry public from Qantas becoming the worst-performing airline, and pressure workers into accepting wage freezes that will crush pay and conditions at the airport for decades.”

FAAA Federal Secretary Teri O’Toole added Qantas management wasn’t acting in good faith.

“This conditional payment in no way makes up for the disgraceful tactics used by Qantas management to coerce international cabin crew into accepting a deal that they virtually unanimously voted against for how it worsened their jobs and work-life balance.

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“Domestic cabin crew are bargaining now and we were waiting for another underhanded tactic to pressure them into a shoddy deal — well, here it is.”

Joyce said on Friday the payment acknowledges a “tough few years” for the whole industry.

“In February, we announced a bonus scheme that gives employees at least 1000 shares in the national carrier if key conditions are met, which are on track.

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“Today, we’re announcing a one-off payment that goes some of the way to acknowledging the sacrifices our people have made, including long periods of no work and no annual wage increases. It also recognises the great work they are doing as we restart the airline, which has been challenging for everyone.

“This comes at a time when travel demand is rebounding but our people are facing a unique set of cost of living pressures, which frankly they’d be in a better position to handle if aviation hadn’t been so badly hit over the past two years. That’s now changing.

“We can’t afford to permanently increase salaries beyond the two per cent threshold we’ve set, but we can afford to make this one-off payment on top of the Qantas share rights we’ve already given.

“Getting our permanent cost base right is how we’re able to reinvest, which ultimately means more opportunity for our people.”

The development comes alongside a separate row in which the pilots’ union AIPA suggested its members only voted through a deal on working terms because Qantas threatened to outsource jobs. Qantas angrily denied the claims, telling Australian Aviation it “never” used those words.

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