Union vows to fight Qantas outsourcing appeal

September 07, 2021
Photo: Steve Creedy

The Transport Workers’ Union has vowed to fight an appeal by Qantas against a Federal Court decision it contravened the Fair Work Act when it outsourced ground handling operations at 10 Australian airports.

The decision affected about 2000 workers previously employed by the airline and the court found the airline outsourced the workers partly to prevent them from exercising their right to take industrial action.

Qantas on Monday lodged an application for leave to appeal the decision in a move the union says was an attempt to delay remedy hearings to get the workers reinstated and paid compensation for the sackings.

READ: Qantas loses major case on outsourcing of work.

The union said a survey it conducted of the outsourced workers showed three-quarters had been unable to find full-time work since they were sacked and 77 percent wanted their job back.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the union will not give up this fight for justice.

“Workers have been to hell and back because of Qantas’s cruelty, which it is adamant to drag out as long as possible. Qantas management have teetered on the edge of the law throughout the pandemic,’’ said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

“This time, the airline has been categorically found to have crossed that line. Rather than funding an expensive appeal with the $2b taxpayer cash it has received, Qantas should get on with the urgent task of reinstating and compensating the loyal workers it illegally pushed out the door.

“More than 1650 people have signed a letter calling on the Qantas board to drop plans to appeal and give workers their jobs back. If the board truly has the airline’s best interests at heart, it should reinstate the highly skilled workers who’ve built the trusted brand.”

The action comes as a Senate committee earlier this week heard that many existing employees involved in airline ground handling were believed to have left the industry for good and this could stall the proposed return of flights over summer.

The Australian Aviation Ground Handlers Alliance was among several organizations calling for more government help for aviation workers.

Qantas has been approached for comment.