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Re-elected TWU chief vows to end Qantas ‘dictatorship’

written by Adam Thorn | November 7, 2022

The TWU has re-elected Michael Kaine to a new four-year term

The TWU’s national secretary has been re-elected for a new four-year term and responded by vowing to “rein in the Qantas dictatorship”.

Michael Kaine said his win, along with assistant Nick McIntosh, was a “powerful endorsement” of their strategy to lift standards for all workers.

“Brave aviation workers rocked the business world, defeating Qantas not once but twice in the Federal Court over their illegal sackings,” said Kaine.

“There is a steep uphill climb, but a challenge workers are ready to take on, to rebuild aviation and prise the industry from the grasp of unscrupulous executives lining their own pockets at the expense of workers, passengers and the Australian taxpayer.”

Kaine was referring to the TWU’s victory against the Flying Kangaroo in the Federal Court, which ruled Qantas was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles.


“Last year, we saw thousands of transport workers stand up and face off job security threats brought by the unregulated gig tsunami,” he added.

“We’re seeing the unity of transport workers reflected throughout the industry, with supply chain clients, gig companies, major transport operators and industry groups linking arms with workers to call for reform for a fairer, safer and more sustainable transport industry.

“It’s a privilege to stand at the helm of a union that will not relent in our mission to save lives on our roads, lift industry standards, and end unfair, exploitative tactics to pit workers against one other.”

Kaine began his career at the TWU NSW Branch in 1999 as the organiser responsible for owner drivers in trucking, leading worker actions to protect enforceable standards for transport workers in the state.

He was later part of the Safe Rates Advisory Group of the Gillard Labor Government, which created the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

National assistant secretary McIntosh said, “There’s a buzz in the industry and particularly within our membership that we are on the cusp of reviving transport from an industry all-but abandoned by the former government, hanging on by a thread with deadly consequences, to a prosperous industry where all participants can thrive.”

The pair’s tenure has not been without controversy. In September 2020, the TWU gathered outside Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s private home to protest. The union said the dramatic action was necessary because “there’s no way else to communicate with him”.

The TWU is currently pushing for a return to multi-employer bargaining and, crucially, allowing workers to strike on behalf of those employed at other companies.

“It’s not about an uncontrolled upward spiral of wages and conditions,” said Kaine.

“It’s about saving the economy from complete fragmentation where workers have no power (and) where the companies that engage them have no commercial power to dictate their future.

“That’s not good for economic growth. It’s certainly not good for making sure workers are getting a share of the economy.”

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Comments (6)

  • John


    Bloody unions telling companies who the boss will be!

  • Craithie


    The TWU’s eleven-years’ long vendetta against QANTAS, is really sickening.

    Kaine’s just sprouting his usual hot air, of which anybody with a brain takes no notice.

    Just now does he think he’s going to end the supposed ‘dictatorship’?
    Nothing sensible has been said by him in this article.

    QANTAS has got a High Court case against the TWU.
    It’s to be hoped the airline wins.

  • Paul


    Strange choice of words. “Dictatorship”. Was he talking about his re- election?

    • Craithie


      Well said, Paul…

      What a truth!

  • Dave Guru


    This is taking us back to the Whitlam days of mega inflation and massive mortgage interest rates. Be careful what you ask for. The best way to grow wages is a shortage of unemployed willing workers.

  • Average Joe


    Kaine’s whole TWU career has been spent trying to stick it to Qantas. I’ve never been involved with a business where you are constantly abusing your business partner. And like it or not, Qantas and the TWU are business partners who need to work TOGETHER to come to a resolution. Don’t get me wrong – Each party are looking at what is best for themselves, however I cannot recall Kaine ever saying anything positive about Qantas.
    Unions when first introduced were successful in implementing so many valuable initiatives. It’s a shame to see what they have come to now. The amount of corruption investigations required, factionism and nepotism runs strong through them. They killed off the manufacturing industry with inflated labour rates, forcing businesses to move elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong – Australian wages are always going to be significantly higher than the countries that the car manufacturers had gone to, but with Government grants there used to be a fighting chance.

    I’m still to understand there being a need for people to be able to strike for something that has nothing to do with them – All this does is potentially allow multiple businesses and industries to be impacted for something they have zero control over. Where is the fairness in that?

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