Qantas faces union legal action over 2,500 jobs

The airline is facing increasing union pressure over plans to reduce its workforce by 2,500 employees

Qantas faces union legal action over 2,500 jobs

Qantas said it will defend its plans to let go of nearly 2,500 ground crew members after the airline company faced a new complaint from the Transport Workers Union over the upcoming job cuts.

"Once again, the TWU is misrepresenting the situation and misleading its members," a Qantas spokesperson told HRD, responding to the legal action filed before the Fair Work Commission.

The TWU complaint accuses Qantas of failing to consult with workers on the new retrenchment plans, which add to the 6,000 job cuts earlier announced.

Read more: Qantas announce thousands of job losses

Qantas expects revenue losses to balloon to $10bn as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19 as well as the border closures that affected air travel for much of 2020. The company said the crisis is forcing it to revaluate the delivery of its ground services. 

Qantas is considering reducing staff on the ground, which includes baggage handlers, drivers and cleaners, and turning instead to “specialist ground handlers”.

The carrier proposed plans to outsource ground operations to save an estimated $100m annually. It has yet to decide on the matter but has invited workers to make a bid to keep the roles in-house.

With planes grounded and thousands of Qantas workers stood down awaiting announcements, the HR department has had a busy few months dealing with escalating industrial unrest.

Read more: Qantas stands down two-thirds of staff

"We will vigorously defend the union’s claims in the Fair Work Commission," a Qantas spokesperson told HRD.

Qantas told HRD that they commenced discussions with the TWU after advising their employees that they proposed to outsource the remaining ground handling work that is done inhouse.

"No decision has been made," Qantas said. 

"Employees representatives will be provided paid time off as well as support from subject matter experts within the business to respond to the proposal and prepare an inhouse bid. They will also have longer than specialist ground handlers to prepare a bid, " said the spokesperson.  
"We appreciate that the cost savings and capital investment required are very high and will be challenging for employees to achieve. But given the impact of COVID on the business, it is so important that they are achieved. The size of the potential savings demonstrates what could be achieved from using specialist ground handlers," said the Qantas spokesperson. 

Recent articles & video

'You can't be what you can't see': Why representation matters

Fired for being pregnant? Worker wins unfair dismissal case

Going hybrid? Here's what to factor in your HR policy

Compensation: What's the law on mental health injuries?

Most Read Articles

Australian HR Awards 2021: HRD reveals this year’s excellence awardees

Facebook gives staff option to go fully remote

Can employees be ‘dismissed’ without being fired?