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Qantas profit ‘kick in the guts’ to outsourced staff, says TWU

written by Adam Thorn | February 22, 2024

Victor Pody shot this Qantas 737-800, VH-VXD, taking off from Melbourne.

The TWU has said Qantas’ huge half-year profit of $1.25 billion is a “kick in the guts” to outsourced workers still awaiting compensation.

It comes after the Flying Kangaroo lost a series of court cases that ruled the airline was wrong to remove more than 1,700 ground workers back in 2021.

Both sides have failed to agree to a compensation package, meaning the decision has been referred to the federal court.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine accused the airline of abandoning talks and said the financial results were a reminder that “corporate greed” has turned the business into a “husk of its former self”.

“There may be a billion bucks in the bank, but at what cost?” he said. “The good name of the national carrier trashed, passengers price-gouged, and workers thrown on the scrap heap. It just goes to show that money is far from the only measure of a successful business.


“This profit must be reinvested into the airline and the workforce. The announcements today are as hollow as the promises have been over the last six months – a shiny façade for planes and apps while the core problems of decimated jobs and service remain.

“A $500 staff travel voucher does nothing to reward workers or address chronic understaffing and illegal outsourcing. Only when good secure jobs are brought back to aviation will quality service and return on investment for passengers be possible.

“At upcoming compensation hearings for illegally sacked workers, we need to see genuine remorse from Qantas and a willingness to quickly and appropriately pay for the devastation caused, without further delay tactics.”

Last year, Qantas accepted the final decision of the High Court that it was wrong to outsource the roles but argued it made the call when its survival was “not assured” mid-COVID-19.

“The Federal Court originally found that while there were valid and lawful commercial reasons for the outsourcing, it could not rule out that Qantas also had an unlawful reason – namely, avoiding future industrial action,” said Qantas in September when the case came to a close after a series of appeals.

“The High Court has now effectively upheld this interpretation. The decision to outsource the remainder of the airline’s ground handling function was made in August 2020, when borders were closed, lockdowns were in place, and no COVID vaccine existed.

“The likelihood of a years’ long crisis led Qantas to restructure its business to improve its ability to survive and ultimately recover.

“As we have said from the beginning, we deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected, and we sincerely apologise for that.”

The TWU’s strong words against the airline come just a day after it offered an unprecedented olive branch to incoming chairman John Mullen.

The union praised his “earnest determination” and “open door approach” to negotiating with workers.

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