After months and months of seeing long serving loyal colleagues leave the Qantas Group because of the mismanagement of the CEO and the Qantas Board, today's news of a record statutory $2.8 billion loss at Qantas is still a shock.
Many ASU members have expressed their dismay at what has been going on at Qantas – day in and day out they try to do their jobs to the best of their ability and today's announcement bears witness to what staff have been thinking and saying for a while – the management and Board have not been doing the job they should.
Through no fault of their own thousands of staff have left the company this year and many like the 500 staff in telephone sales in Brisbane and Melbourne have been told their jobs have been axed because of poor decisions and directions taken by the company's leadership. At the same time, in telephone sales for example they see 1250 offshore call centre jobs in the Qantas Group untouched by decisions that ignore customer service and the value of Australian workers who have been part of building the once mighty brand.
Over recent months many ASU delegates have been involved in discussions about restructuring – this is not new – change is part of life at Qantas – but in some areas we are seeing multiple changes of direction which make no sense, the shedding of years and years of experience and knowledge to look like someone is doing something - for what a $2.8 billion loss?
To date the CEO and the Board have been content to blame everyone other than themselves for the current situation at Qantas – it is fuel prices, it's the government, it's Virgin, it's foreign carriers, it's the wrong fleet – all of these pressures are not new, this is the environment that Qantas has long operated in and yet it was one of the most profitable airlines in the world. Over a few short years it is now written a massive loss. The time for blaming everyone else must now be over – the buck must stop with Alan Joyce and the Board and staff are right to ask how do they still hold their jobs when everyone else has had to either lose their jobs or shoulder the work of long gone colleagues.
In today's announcements it is hard to see a plan for how the airline is going to grow – how more passengers are going to fly the airlines in the Qantas Group and more money is going to be made. Qantas surely needs a team with ideas and ways of restoring the airline, not people who embark on speculative ventures which have not paid off or who are intent on selling everything and announcing redundancies for a share price bounce.
The Qantas Group is the backbone of the Australian aviation industry – damage to Qantas is damage to that industry – it will be irreparable unless something is done at the top.
Tomorrow the ASU and other unions are meeting with Qantas management – rest assured we will not be pulling any punches in our discussions – this is not a time for platitudes. Watch out for more information on what you can do.
Read the ASU media release about today's announcement: "It's time for Alan Joyce and the Qantas Board to go"