Qantas moves to use labour hire and casualise workforce

By Ben Wilson

The Transport (TWU) is furious about more of workers at Qantas facing the sack. The company is continuing with its plan to outsource a significant part of its workforce, despite being a beneficiary of the government’s JobKeeper program.

Qantas has been accused of complete disregard for its workers and using the Covid-19 pandemic as a cover to implement its aim to expand the casualisation of work.

This is plan to cut wages and pull down working conditions. In June, 6,000 jobs went through redundancy. Last month, it was announced that another 2,500 will be outsourced, from baggage handlers, cabin crew and engineers.

Now they are saying the number of jobs to be outsourced, is going to be bigger than what had been announced.

The TWU has pledged to fight this during current discussions for a new enterprise agreement.

Qantas workers protest in August

Video from the TWU Australia


The cost cutting exercise is designed to save $1 billion over each of the next three years, and attract $19 billion from investors seeking generous payouts. The purpose? to expand market share, as the industry moves out of the pandemic shock.

It is tohse who who have put in the day to day work over the years that are being made to wear the burden, and this is not going down well.

The union had previously raised concerns about the safety record and conditions of workers at Swissport, front runner to be contracted by the airline. Some of the existing workers could be re-employed. Most will not be taken back, and even if they are, only by agreeing to forego exiting emplyment conditions conditions.

Qantas is betting on being given the green light by Fair Work Australia, accepting the pandemic as a good enough justification.

This makes what is going on in Qantas a test case, and other employers are looking on to see the result. The last time this was tried on a major scale was during the 1998 Patrick Stevedores waterfront battle to get rid of the unionised workforce.

It failed in the face of a massive union and community response.

It is known that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been in communication with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and had likely got the green light to go ahead. This means that, if the dispute escalates, it will take on definite pollical overtones.

Scott Morrison blames the pandemic on 28 June

Video from News Hub


The case is likely to go to court in the short-term. Beyond this, it could become a rallying cry towards another waterfront like showdown.

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