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Ex-TWU boss Sheldon tells Joyce: Get out of Qantas now

written by Jake Nelson | May 2, 2023

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in the cockpit of a 787 Dreamliner in 2017. (Image: Qantas)

NSW ALP Senator Tony Sheldon and the TWU have lined up to give departing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce a kicking on his way out the door, with Sheldon demanding he leaves now rather than clinging on until November.

Sheldon, a former national secretary of the TWU, launched a blistering attack on Joyce, saying the CEO – who will have spent 15 years in the top job come his November retirement – can “give Qantas workers and customers an early Christmas present by resigning today”.

“He could also bring back the 1,700 Qantas ground handlers he illegally sacked during the pandemic, and pay back the $2 billion he received from the Morrison Government and used to pump up the Qantas share price,” said Sheldon.

“Clearly, the CEO resigning is not enough. The Qantas board, which greenlit every greedy, illegal action taken throughout the Joyce era, desperately needs renewal. Alan Joyce has left a massive task for the next CEO, who must restore the spirit of Australia to Qantas and end Alan Joyce’s ideological war on its loyal workforce and frustrated customers.”

Sheldon pointed to Qantas’ “multiple legal challenges” including the impending High Court action regarding the 1,700 outsourced workers as an example of the legacy Joyce will leave behind.


“Joyce also leaves Qantas as the most complained-about company in Australia, according to the ACCC. Joyce also has questions to answer about the $800 million of COVID-19 flight credits that are due to expire this year, which have proved notoriously difficult to redeem,” he said.

Qantas has consistently denied any wrongdoing with its decision to outsource workers and is set to appeal a ruling it was wrong in the High Court later this year.

The TWU has joined in the fray, with current National Secretary Michael Kaine saying incoming CEO Vanessa Hudson must “steer Qantas back to its core purpose” of high-quality service and investment in staff and strive not to emulate Joyce’s often contentious leadership.

“It’s not a high bar but one we hope she can surmount and build upon to begin the process of renewing the Spirit of Australia. Our door is open for the new CEO to meet with worker representatives to establish a succession plan that would treat skilled and experienced workers as an essential investment rather than a cost.

“In addition, to ensure that the Australian public can depend on the aviation industry, the Federal Government must create a Safe and Secure Skies Commission that establishes and enforces fair standards across aviation,” he said.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) has also offered an olive branch to Hudson, with AIPA President Tony Lucas congratulating her on her appointment.

“Pilots are long-term employees of Qantas, and we are invested in its success. We look forward to working with Vanessa in her new role to ensure the continuing growth of the Qantas Group to the benefit of the travelling public, staff and shareholders,” he said.

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