Federal Court rules terminated Qantas workers won't be reinstated

Unions claim the decision brings 'unimaginable anguish for unlawfully sacked workers and their families'

Federal Court rules terminated Qantas workers won't be reinstated

The Federal Court has ruled that Qantas workers who lost their jobs following the airline's decision to outsource staff will not be reinstated to their previous posts.

In his decision, Justice Michael Lee said that it would be impractical for the workers to get their jobs back, echoing the argument that the airline gave, which said that it has been months since said workers were terminated. 

Qantas welcomed the decision in a statement to ABC, once again defending that their decision to outsource staff was "based on lawful commercial reasons" in response to the pandemic's impact to the airline.

However, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) argued that reinstating the workers is the "appropriate and just remedy to provide workers stability, and restore their dignity and self-worth". The union, which said it will appeal the decision, added that the ruling will bring "unimaginable anguish for unlawfully sacked workers and their families”.

"The TWU is undeterred in its belief that these workers deserve their jobs back. We will appeal and continue the fight for justice alongside the ongoing matters of compensation and penalties on Qantas," said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine, as quoted by ABC.

The Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) supported the TWU in its move, slamming the Federal government for its inaction on the case.

"Qantas wouldn't have been able to replace workers with lower-paid, less trained and more insecure workers with fewer rights if the Morrison Government had taken action and chosen to support the workforce rather than the corporation," said ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O'Brien in a statement.

Despite not being reinstated, the terminated employees could still receive compensation depending on the court's hearing next year. The court will also likely decide how much will the former Qantas workers receive.

Read more: Qantas posts $1.08 billion half-year loss

Bigger issue

The court decision favouring the airline is only part of a bigger controversy faced by Qantas regarding outsourcing staff, replacing baggage handlers, ramp workers and cabin cleaners at airports.

The issue was brought to court last year by the TWU, alleging that the airline's move to outsource more than 2,000 ground crew jobs was a breach of the Fair Work Act.

In July, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the TWU, after Justice Lee said he was not convinced by the proof presented by Qantas that it was driven by the pandemic's impact.

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