Qantas will be seeking to appeal the judgment by the Full Federal Court to the High Court.
Qantas has always said the decision to outsource our ground handling function was based on lawful commercial reasons in response to the unprecedented impact of the COVID crisis.
Prior to the pandemic, Qantas was actively recruiting into its ground handling function and investing in new equipment – a sign that we had no intention of outsourcing.
Qantas had three clear reasons why the outsourcing was necessary in the wake of the massive impact of the COVID crisis:
- Using specialised ground handling companies could save Qantas more than $100 million a year – savings needed as part of its recovery from COVID.
- It would also remove the need for Qantas to spend $80 million over five years on necessary ground handling equipment like tugs and baggage loaders.
- Outsourcing would allow resources to be better matched with fluctuating levels of demand.
Today’s judgment does not mean Qantas is required to pay compensation or penalties. We will be asking the Court to stay any further hearings on this issue until after the High Court process.
The Court’s dismissal of the TWU’s appeal against the decision to not reinstate these former workers shows the TWU has been giving its members false hope about getting their previous jobs back, when reinstatement was always unworkable.
The TWU has pushed a lot of misinformation on this issue. Before the pandemic, we had outsourced ground handling in 55 of the 65 Australian airports we operated from. During the pandemic, we outsourced the ground handling at the remaining 10 airports. The companies now doing this work perform the same function for most other airlines in Australia and most airlines worldwide.
Like many workplaces, these ground handlers were recently hit by COVID-related absences, which would have been the case if this work was still done by Qantas employees. We’re seeing baggage handling largely return to normal as COVID case numbers peak and as close contact rules have now changed. We don’t expect this to stop the TWU from repurposing any baggage issues out of the many thousands of bags successfully handled every day and saying outsourcing is the cause.