Qantas reaps record profits: What about security and safety situation asks the TWU?

September 1, 2016

Australia’s main airline carrier group Qantas announced last week a record annual profit of A$1.42bn ($1.1bn, £820m), nearly doubling last year’s result.

A portion of this huge profit increase was attributed to savings on jet fuel, due to plunging global oil prices. However, destruction of jobs and conditions played a critical role as was explained by a report issued by the ITF affiliated the Transport Workers Union (TWU) last year entitled, “The Qantas Effect”.

On the other hand, this attack on jobs and conditions comes with a price tag. This is something that hasn’t been covered by the international business media but was highlighted by the TWU. In a hard hitting press release, the TWU voiced its doubts about security and safety conditions at Qantas caused by the ripping out of the jobs and conditions of the company’s workforce.

According to the TWU Qantas’ full year results are masking the dangerous truth of increased security risks throughout the company’s aviation operations.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said staff turnover was already 15% within Qantas Group itself, while it was estimated that turnover was as high as 40% among some Qantas contractors.

“Maintaining a stable and properly-trained workforce is vital for the integrity and security of the aviation supply chain.

“Our most recent industry survey, however, showed 43 per cent of aviation workers are in insecure work and 14 per cent had received no security training in the previous six years.

“Ultimately, instability and high turnover in the aviation supply chain could leave Qantas and its passengers vulnerable and exposed – at a time when security simply has to be the industry’s number one priority.”

Sheldon said the brand values that once defined Qantas have become a relic of the past, as the company has systematically hollowed-out its workforce.

“While Qantas bosses are tipped to hand themselves bonuses on top of their executive salaries, workers on the frontline are enduring an 18 month wage freeze with thousands of them receiving a base salary lower than the national minimum wage.

“Qantas is continuing to use its market power to drive down standards in the aviation supply chain, forcing suppliers to cut costs and standards to the bone.

“Full-time Qantas workers are being replaced by part-time contractors. Contracting companies are then forced to pay lower wages and slash conditions in order to win Qantas work.

“It’s a race to the bottom where workers are guaranteed as little as 60 hours work a month. This leads to high turnover, which is compromising service quality, safety and security.

“I don’t consider sacrificing job security, slashing wages and potentially compromising safety the ‘Spirit of Australia’.

“Ultimately, passengers will see through the bluff, and realise what Qantas workers already know – Qantas is no longer the airline they knew and trusted.”

National TV coverage on Qantas’ annual results can be watched here>> and here>>. Two online news stories can read here>> and here>>.

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