QANTAS RESPONDS TO THE TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION’S CLAIMS

Sydney | Published on 9th December 2020 at 11:50

UNION CLAIM – Qantas is outsourcing this work to ‘labour hire companies’

FACT – This is not correct. The specialist ground handlers are not labour hire companies. They will be contracted to deliver a service (eg. baggage handling/ramp or aircraft cleaning) not simply to provide labour, just as they are at the 55 airports that we already use them. Every major airline around the world uses ground handling companies including Virgin, Air New Zealand, Emirates.

UNION CLAIM – Qantas is seeking to avoid collective bargaining as the law firm claims.

FACT – This is not true. Collective bargaining has nothing to do with our decision. We will continue to bargain with the TWU and many other unions across our workforce. In fact, there are hundreds of Qantas Freight employees who remain employed under the same EBAs as the affected ground handling employees.

UNION CLAIM – Qantas will be able to set the price of labour unilaterally and impose it on these workers.

FACT – This is not true. Qantas does not (and will not) determine wages and conditions for these ground handling companies. Qantas is one of many airline customers who these ground handlers provide services to. Subject to consultation, we will award the work across 10 airports to seven different suppliers.

UNION CLAIM – These specialist ground handlers are unsafe.

FACT – This is not true and ignores the fact they have been safely supporting Qantas’ operations (as well as other airlines) at airports around the country, in some cases for decades. Outsourced ground handlers are required to abide by Qantas Group policies and procedures. The data shows that external ground handlers are no less safe and in some cases their safety performance is better. Take aircraft loading, which is a core part of what ground handlers do. An average of 0.4 aircraft damage events per 1000 flights for outsourced operations compared with 0.8 for Qantas staffed airports.

UNION CLAIM – Qantas has violated the intent of the JobKeeper scheme, and abused taxpayers’ money. They should pay it back.

FACT – The lion’s share of Government support we’ve received has been through JobKeeper, which has been a lifeline for our employees who were stood down. We have fully complied with the spirit and purpose of JobKeeper – including recognising when jobs aren’t coming back and making those jobs redundant.

The rest of the government support was used to maintain critical domestic and international air services – which in turn generated paid work for our people.

The TWU’s demand that Qantas pay back government support such as JobKeeper would require us to claw it back from their members – which makes no sense.

As at late October 2020, the net benefit of Government assistance to Qantas was $17 million.

In June, while the majority of our employees were receiving JobKeeper, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was obvious that jobs would have to go: “These jobs have been lost because of the coronavirus. This is the COVID-19 recession. And for a business like Qantas, that is about flying planes around the world, when you can’t do that, that has an obvious impact.”

UNION CLAIM – Qantas will be break even by Christmas and be back to profit next year.

FACT – This is not correct. Today, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We’re announcing today that we expect to be close to break even at the Underlying EBITDA level for the first half. To be clear on what this means – we’re not back in the black. Far from it. We will post a significant loss this year.”

UNION CLAIM – The in-house bid process is a sham process.

FACT – The TWU requested that this process be added to the enterprise bargaining agreement back in 2012 and it has been approved by the union and employees in two subsequent agreements.