QANTAS ACTIONS A NATIONAL DISGRACE – Qantas Strategy Called “Project Other” (Statement by Tony Sheldon-TWU Australia)

October 30, 2011

The Transport Workers Union of Australia (TWU) condemns the actions of Qantas senior management and its Board to shut down the airline.

At last night’s hearing before Fair Work Australia, a squadron of twenty-five (25) high paid legal advisers seemed abundantly prepared to deal with all possible legal and industrial contingencies.

The Qantas advisers’ files were each marked “Project Other”. We take this to mean not only premeditated action on a massive scale, but a sinister reference to the company’s true intent: Qantas wants to employ anyone other than Australian employees.

Alan Joyce must appear as requested at Fair Work Australia at today’s hearing so his strategy and his misleading comments can be subject to cross-examination.

TWU members have taken a total of eight hours industrial action throughout the course of this dispute over eight months of negotiations, yet Qantas has taken the absurd step of shutting the airline down and locking out its employees.

The TWU was presented with an ultimatum by Qantas last week to agree immediately to an offer that guaranteed wide-scale outsourcing of Australian jobs and a pay rise that didn’t match the rate of inflation. Qantas said the offer could not be shown to its employees and would be withdrawn within hours.

Qantas employees are seeking the same job security provision that Virgin Australia recently agreed to. Many other companies have agreed to the same provisions and have done so in a co-operative way.  Qantas executives have taken a vastly different approach.

Qantas employees are up against ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ corporate cowboys who simply do not care about their workforce. Qantas management has not participated in a single meaningful meeting. They clock up the hours saying ‘no’ and paint this as saying they have tried to settle the matter.  The fact is this has been a set-up from day one.

Yesterday’s action is a breach of the Qantas Sale Act, pure and simple. The Act says Qantas has a national responsibility to the Australian community, content, and workforce.

It is clear the Australian Government could not have anticipated this crazed action by the Qantas Board and senior management. We submit it offends key provisions of the Qantas Sale Act and for this reason we seek the Government’s urgent assessment of whether amendments to prevent the destruction of the airline should be pursued.

The question remains: why did the Board and senior management decide their pay rises were more important than being honest with the Australian public at Friday’s AGM?

Alan Joyce locked his $5 million in less than 48 hours ago – all the while planning to destroy the airline and employee goodwill.

This is a calculated strategy to abandon Qantas as an Australian business. Qantas has never wanted to resolve this dispute. That is why they started training staff in the USA nine months ago.

Mr Joyce is unfit to lead this great Australian company. He is destroying Qantas shareholder value and its reputation in a way that would make Sol Trujillo blush.

Mr Joyce should take his $5 million package and leave the airline in the hands of someone committed to Australian jobs, not someone hell-bent on recklessly trying to upturn Qantas’ Australian roots and all that has made it great.

Qantas was not created for Alan Joyce and Leigh Clifford to destroy. It is not their ideological plaything.  It is a proud Australian company.

We call on the Federal Government to intervene in the public interest and to preserve the jobs that Alan Joyce and his over-remunerated Board members are wilfully trying to destroy.


For further information about the dispute, please visit these websites:

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