'A disgrace': Qantas cuts 2,000 more jobs after asking workers to bid for them

Qantas will push ahead with its plan to cut and outsource about 2000 jobs, after rejecting an in-house bid from a union representing ground staff.

A Qantas Airbus A380.

Qantas has sacked 2,000 more staff, blaming COVID-19. Source: FR171313 AP

Qantas is pushing ahead with its plan to cut and outsource about 2,000 jobs, after rejecting an in-house bid from a union representing ground staff.

The jobs affected are at 10 airports around the country and impact ground operations workers including ground crew, aircraft cleaners and baggage handlers.

"COVID has turned aviation upside down," Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said in statement on Monday.

"Airlines around the world are having to make dramatic decisions in order to survive and the damage will take years to repair."

The plan was first flagged in August when the national carrier said it needed to restructure its ground handling operations to meet the economic and financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Qantas estimated reducing the overall cost of ground handling operations could save around $100 million annually, based on pre-COVID levels of flying.

Avoiding large spending on ground handling equipment such as aircraft tugs and baggage loaders would also save $80 million over five years.

The Transport Workers Union had submitted a bid on behalf of Qantas workers in accordance with terms in an enterprise agreement.

Over the past three months, Qantas has provided the TWU with access to extensive data, met with them on nine occasions and thoroughly considered and costed their proposals, Qantas spokesperson Henry Budd told SBS News.

In addition, 23 employees were released on full pay to prepare the in-house bid, while teams from some individual airports also submitted local proposals.

But none met Qantas' objectives.

Mr David said TWU's bid claimed that significant savings could be made but it failed to outline sufficient practical detail on how this might be achieved, despite requesting this information multiple times throughout the process.

"Even with the involvement of a large accounting firm, the bid falls well short of what the specialist external providers were able to come up with," he said.

The decision means job losses across the group as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and associated border closures total around 8,500 of its 29,000 pre-COVID workforce.

TWU labelled Qantas "a disgrace" on Monday.

"This is not because of the pandemic. This has been on the cards for a decade, and an easy excuse for Qantas to get rid of loyal, experienced workers".

"Qantas is a disgrace".

Labor's industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said thousands of Qantas employees who went to work this morning are going home without a job.

"Two thousand Australians who have given tremendous loyalty to Qantas for their working lives have now discovered that loyalty is not repaid," Mr Burke told reporters in Canberra.

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for allowing Qantas to sack staff after asking them to bid for their own jobs.

"So now we’ve now got a real, live version of the Hunger Games as Australians to try to hang onto their own jobs. In the middle of a global pandemic," she tweeted.

"Scott Morrison let Qantas force workers to bid for their own jobs, and then sack them. It’s unAustralian."

With reporting by Caroline Riches

Published 30 November 2020 at 3:21pm, updated 30 November 2020 at 4:09pm
Source: AAP - SBS