Today's announcement by the Qantas Group of the cutting of 5000 jobs and the massive restructuring across the Group is a dark day in the proud history of your airline and it cannot go unchallenged by any of us who have worked hard to make the company an Australian icon with an unbeatable safety record and reputation for customer service.
As part of the 5000 jobs Qantas has foreshadowed the loss of 1,500 so called "non-operational" jobs. It is not acceptable to call these jobs "back office" jobs as if to imply they are somehow less important to the airline's operations – we know this is wrong and we must call it out as such.
We are very concerned at the level of cuts that are proposed and how that will impact on those left behind to pick up the pieces and keep the airline running.
Qantas have suggested they will seek to freeze wages until they achieve a full year underlying profit. This is an indefinite claim and front line staff will have no influence over this outcome. We will be discussing this serious claim with Qantas tomorrow and we will report back to you as soon as we can.
ASU delegates and members have vowed to spring into action to save every job we can by utilizing both our strength on the ground and the provisions of our comprehensive agreements for consultation and mitigation of job losses that we have negotiated across the Qantas Group. We have worked together before through some very dark times and we can do it again if we remain focused on our aims.
Everyone has become an expert on Qantas in recent weeks – politicians, media commentators and the man/woman in the street – some will seek to blame us for our wages and conditions and seek to downgrade the importance of the jobs we perform and justify the cuts. We cannot and should not accept this as no one has been through more restructures, changes, adaptation to technological change and job losses over the years than ASU members.
We have taken only modest pay increases and watched a succession of managers line their pockets with bonuses made from our hard work. We have seen offshoring of jobs in payroll in Jetstar result in Jetstar workers never being paid correctly and cost millions to fix, we have witnessed the cost blowouts when IT was offshored when savings were promised – short term savings for long term cost that we know comes from offshoring jobs. Frontline workers cannot and should not take the blame for management failures and we will be saying this in every forum we can.
What is next?
Tomorrow we are going to meet Qantas management in Sydney with the ACTU Secretary and other Qantas unions and next Wednesday we have organised meetings to start to understand the scope of the proposed changes. We will be holding both ASU delegates and members meetings in coming weeks to make sure you are updated on what is happening in your area and across the Qantas group, and what you need to do. There may also be a time where we have to talk with our politicians too about what they are proposing, as voters they will have to listen to Qantas group staff.
The ASU will report back the outcome of all these discussions so you know where you stand.
If you want more information contact your local organiser [download the full bulletin below for details].
ASU Media Release: Black day for Qantas workers
Update: Thursday, 27 February 2014
Abbott Government focuses on cutting wages and conditions while 5000 more jobs go
The Abbott Government once again made clear where their priorities lie when instead of announcing a jobs plan in the face of mounting job losses, it introduced legislation to cut the wages and conditions of Australian workers.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver called on Prime Minister Abbott to come clean and explain why he won't fight for jobs but is prepared to cut the take home pay of hardworking Australian families.
"The Abbott Government introduced legislation today that provides for individual 'flexibility agreements' that buy out overtime pay and penalty rates for zero financial compensation," Mr Oliver said.
"The Bill undermines a range of key rights at work and is an exercise in the Government ticking off the pre-election wish list of the mining industry.
"The Government is also letting employers dip their hands into the pockets of workers by cutting their entitlement to payout of annual leave loading on termination – money they are entitled to.
"Tony Abbott is giving the green light to employers to cut people's pay under the guise of greater flexibility.
"We know that the Liberal Party definition of flexibility has always been flexibility by workers not for workers and that's exactly what we have seen again today.
"This is a blatant attempt to cut pay and conditions through Individual Contracts and shows the Abbott Government doesn't understand the concerns of Australian workers.
"Mr Abbott was only too happy to don a hard hat and high vis vest and stand alongside workers before the election but since he's become Prime Minister he's only been interested in sticking up for corporate Australia."
Mr Oliver questioned why Prime Minister Abbott still hasn't outlined his plan to fulfil his election commitment to create 1 million new jobs.
"Australia is in the midst of a job security crisis with thousands of workers losing their jobs and many others pushed into casual insecure work. That's what the Abbott Government should be focused on, not on making life tougher for people.
"But day after day we keep seeing the Abbott Government trying to drive down wages at a time when families can least afford it.
"Now that the so called 'wages blowout' has been proven to be a lie, the Abbott Government has fallen back on Individual Contracts - which were a hallmark of WorkChoices - cutting wages and diminishing conditions that Australian workers rely on in order to balance life and work."
Media contact: Carla De Campo, 0410 579 575 / Eleni Hale, 0418 793 885