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Unions want Qantas ‘reset’ as Alan Joyce heads for the exit

written by Jake Nelson | September 5, 2023

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

The TWU and Australian Services Union have called for a “reset” at Qantas with the departure of CEO Alan Joyce.

The unions have both indicated they want to see a line drawn under Joyce’s tenure with the appointment of new CEO Vanessa Hudson, who will take the reins on Wednesday after Joyce moved his planned exit date forward by two months.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Joyce’s exit is “the first good decision the Qantas board has made for a very long time”, and questioned whether the board members should now spill their positions following what he labelled as “years of decimated jobs and standards, illegal outsourcing, and outrageous bonuses”.

“Alan Joyce is slipping into retirement two months early with a $24 million pay packet, leaving one of the biggest messes in corporate Australia’s history in his wake,” he said.

“After finally receiving the public scrutiny he deserves for trashing one of Australia’s most cherished companies, Alan Joyce is exiting with a $10 million bonus, announced on Friday.


“This is a classic Joyce move: pretend to take responsibility while pocketing obscene amounts of money. He must be stripped of those bonuses immediately.”

Kaine said Australians are “rightfully furious with the Joyce regime”, citing a litany of complaints including “15 years of wage suppression, grounding of the fleet and illegal outsourcing”.

“Qantas posted a record $2.5 billion profit after receiving $2.7 billion in taxpayer handouts, while obliterating its brand through unconscionable attacks on workers and treating customers like mugs,” he said.

“The new regime must embark on a total reset. Qantas needs to bring back good, secure jobs and quality standards.

“Joyce’s departure must draw a line under the ideology that has ruthlessly gone after staff and shown contempt for customers. We need a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to set appropriate standards for workers and the travelling public.”

The Australian Services Union said the Flying Kangaroo would need to act quickly to restore workers’ and customers’ trust, with Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske condemning what the union labelled as a “merciless drive for profits” under Joyce’s tenure.

“Incoming Qantas management now has a rare opportunity to rebuild the relationship between the airline and its workers and customers,” she said.

“Frontline workers have borne the brunt of years of outsourcing and cost-cutting, and their stress levels have soared as travel volumes have returned but staffing levels have not.

“This has flowed through to people’s travel experiences, with customers enduring cancelled flights, lost baggage, and overall inadequate service.”

Gaske called for Qantas to “hit the reset button” and work with unions on investing in a skilled workforce with secure jobs and higher pay and conditions.

“If this once iconic airline wants to rebuild its reputation with the Australian people and ensure it is around for another 100 years, it must start investing in the people that made it great in the first place: its people,” she said.

“We need to bring the spirit of Australia back to Qantas with a commitment to its people and customers.”

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