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Sack the Board, says union after Qantas verdict

written by Jake Nelson | September 13, 2023

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

The TWU has called for the sacking of the entire Qantas Board following the airline’s defeat in the High Court over the outsourcing of ground workers.

The Flying Kangaroo’s appeal was unanimously dismissed by the High Court on Wednesday, prompting the union to call for a spill of the Board including Chairman Richard Goyder, to be replaced by new directors including a workers’ representative.

Qantas sacked 1,683 ground workers in 2020–21, which the High Court found to have breached the Fair Work Act 2009, upholding earlier rulings by the Federal Court and Full Federal Court which determined that the Flying Kangaroo had done so in order to head off industrial action.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said workers had “made history”, and said that the Board should strip former CEO Alan Joyce of his bonuses and “follow him out the door”.

“The Joyce regime has been toppled, but the airline cannot achieve the reset necessary for its survival under the same board that resided over the largest case of illegal sackings in Australian corporate history. Richard Goyder cannot make it through another day as Chair,” he said.


“Qantas needs a fresh start. A worker’s voice on the board would make a significant difference and send the right signal that Qantas is serious about getting back on track.

“All eyes will be on Vanessa Hudson as she responds to this verdict. Illegally sacked workers are owed an apology and an end to Qantas’ attempts to delay paying compensation and penalties.

“Hudson must reverse the destructive business model at Qantas that has exploited or attempted to manufacture loopholes to axe and outsource essential workers to 38 different entities. These actions have destroyed the airline and its reputation.”

Long-time Qantas foe Senator Tony Sheldon has also weighed in, calling the verdict a “direct rebuke to the hyper-exploitative employment practices pioneered by Qantas”.

“It is imperative that parliament passes the Albanese Labor Government’s ‘Closing the Loopholes’ Bill to ensure that the dreadful treatment of these 1700 workers by Qantas doesn’t occur to other Australian workers,” he said.

“Qantas Chair Richard Goyder’s position is utterly untenable. The Senate Inquiry must ensure the Qantas Board and Executive are held fully accountable for what is the largest act of illegal industrial activity in this country’s history.”

The Australian Services Union has also celebrated the decision, with assistant national secretary Emeline Gaske saying the new management has “a serious task ahead of it to rebuild the trust of workers and the travelling public”.

“Looking ahead, the ASU will collaborate with new management to put an end to years of outsourcing and relentless cost-cutting,” she said.

“While the ASU was pleased to have secured a commitment from Qantas that no ASU-covered jobs will be outsourced, more needs to be done to build and maintain a strong local workforce of highly skilled customer service professionals who enjoy fair pay and solid job security.”

The national carrier is staring down three other court cases: a criminal case by the NSW safety regulator for standing down a health and safety representative during the pandemic; a Federal Court action by the ACCC over allegations it sold tickets to more than 8,000 cancelled flights; and a class action by customers over COVID-19 flight credits.

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