New Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson may apologise to outsourced ground workers, according to TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
Speaking to 2GB, Kaine said he had spoken to Hudson on the phone following the High Court’s unanimous decision last week to dismiss the Flying Kangaroo’s appeal over the sacking of 1,683 employees in 2020–21.
“She was keen to acknowledge the hurt that the workers have been through,” said Kaine. “She apologised for it.
“She said that she’d be willing to apologise directly to those workers in the future. And we’ll certainly hold her to that.”
The union boss said, however, that Hudson will also need to back up any apology with action.
“It’s got to be more than words – we’ve got to have a culture change. We’ve got to figure out how we bring good secure jobs back into aviation because, under the Joyce regime, we’ve had aviation jobs decimated,” he said.
“He created 38 separate entities, so rather than workers, as it used to [be], being engaged directly by Qantas – good, secure jobs for life, sometimes through generations of families – we’ve got this situation where just when we need to rebuild aviation, no one wants the jobs because they’re too poorly paid and they’re too insecure.”
Kaine also reiterated his calls for chairman Richard Goyder to be sacked and the Board to be spilled following the departure of former CEO Alan Joyce two weeks ago, saying a “broom needs to go through” Qantas in the wake of Joyce’s early exit.
“Alan Joyce has abandoned ship. He’s headed to the emergency exit with $24 million under his wing. But more than that … his management team’s responsible for the largest illegal sacking of Australian workers in corporate history,” said Kaine.
“Now, this is not just a slap on the wrist. This is the High Court of Australia voting seven-nil that Qantas illegally sacked 1700 workers. The people responsible for holding management to account are the board, and the board has got to go.
“We’ve got an ACCC action on case, we’ve got a class action on case, we’ve got the first day of criminal prosecution from the NSW safety regulator about Qantas’ sacking of a Workplace Health and Safety delegate at the start of the pandemic, who was just trying to alert people to the potential dangers of a pandemic. This is a company [whose] culture is riddled, it’s a company in crisis.”