Published: 07/09/2022
Category: On The Job
Published: 07/09/2022
Category: On The Job

There are some things that we will now always associate with the challenging and exhausting times of living through a pandemic.

Things like masks, RAT tests, QR codes and chaos at Qantas.

The airline whose calling card for generations was “The Spirit of Australia” has become a ghost, haunting travellers with cancellations, delays, and an arrogant CEO who tarnished Qantas’ once gilded reputation.

At the heart of CEO Alan Joyce’s fall from grace has been his fanatical anti-union stance that has seen Qantas wage an unrelenting campaign against workers, illegally sack Qantas’s “underwing” ground workforce, and engage labour hire firms to employ workers on meagre wages, with no entitlements and meagre hours.

All this has happened at Qantas, despite willingly pocketing billions of tax payers dollars at the height of the pandemic.

Too little too late

So how does Alan Joyce plan to fix the mess he’s created?

He’s offering Qantas customers $50 “apology vouchers” as a pitiful attempt to ask for forgiveness for the bin fire he and the executive board have started.

Joyce issued the voucher scheme and a range of frequent flyer perks in a desperate bid to counteract the growing calls for the highly paid, divisive Qantas boss to pack his bags and head for the departure lounge.

The man who once blamed Qantas dysfunction on travellers “not being match fit” is now hoping he can buy off disillusioned Qantas customers with what amounts to little more than a tacky bribe.

Joyce bribe signals at a far deeper problem

Joyce’s desperate overtures simply don’t fly with Transport Workers Union (TWU) Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh. He told On the Job that the public isn’t going to buy what the Qantas CEO is offering.

“The Australian public has seen through this bloke. He used the pandemic to cut good jobs, wages and conditions. He’s taken over a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money meant to keep workers connected to their employment and just sacked the workers anyway,” McIntosh said.

“And when none of that worked, he decided it was because passengers weren’t match fit!”

In May of this year, the Federal Court decided that Qantas had acted illegally when it sacked baggage handlers, ramp workers and its cleaning staff and outsourced their jobs to third party labour hire firms.

It was Joyce’s obsession with attacking workers and their unions that has caused the chaos travellers are now experiencing, according to McIntosh.

“This is a guy that said when he was cutting all these jobs, that they weren’t jobs that were necessary.”

“Now he finds himself with this horrific staff shortage that has seen this once great airline’s reputation shattered,” McIntosh said.

Without respect for workers, the Qantas shine goes dim

For many workers, Qantas was a dream career destination. They contributed decades of hard work towards a company they loved only for their aspirations to come to a sudden end.

McIntosh explained that Joyce has tarnished Qantas’s image due to his treatment of workers. The CEO turned the tables against his own employees and stripped away everything that made Qantas so appealing in the first place.

 “I don’t think people are going to forget that this is a guy who throughout the 15 years, but particularly the last two years, has destroyed what were once secure, well-paid, sought-after jobs.”

“He has turned them into jobs that don’t guarantee hours, provide only the minimum statutory rates of pay, and workers don’t know what their roster is for any given week,” McIntosh said.

The Qantas voucher gimmick will not change the reality for travellers. With another school holiday window approaching, Australians are contemplating whether it is worth the anxiety to fly with the national carrier.

For the TWU – as well as the Flight Attendants Association of Australia and the Australian and International Pilots Association – the first departure they want to see is Alan Joyce, according to McIntosh.

“This is an airline that’s has a unique social licence in Australia. Where we always loved the flying kangaroo; we always see it as the airline that would come and save the day if we’re stranded overseas.”

“It’s now become this airline that is known for delays, cancellations and lost bags. It’s a real shame. I think the Australian public want to see this airline return to its glory days but until there’s a change at the top, it won’t get any better,” McIntosh said.

We stand up for workers’ rights together

Cover photo credit: Josh Withers on Unsplash

Unions call for Joyce’s departure as Qantas flounders

Unions call for Joyce’s departure as Qantas flounders