Early this week Qantas Airways has called on its employees to volunteer to work for free over Christmas and New Year’s.
In a memo to all Sydney Qantas employees, Qantas’ Chief Operating Officer Rachel Yangoyan has called on its administrative workforce to volunteer at the Sydney International Terminal.
“We’re trialling a new volunteer program for ... people who’d like to lend a hand to the frontline during December and January…. If you volunteer outside of normal/rostered working hours, then the shift will be voluntary and unpaid.” the memo reads.
“This is a shocking display of corporate greed, from one of Australia’s biggest companies.” said Natalie Lang, Secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW & ACT, which represents affected administrative and customer service employees.
“Qantas posted over $1.6 billion in profit this year, it’s charging Christmas rates to passengers, and has the audacity to ask its lowest paid workers to work for free at Christmas. It’s a Grinch act of the highest order.” she said.
The ASU is also concerned about the implications this move has on the charities which rely on volunteers over this period.
“Let’s be clear, this isn’t volunteering. This is wage theft. But workers are being asked to choose between “volunteering” for their employer or their local charity.
“It’s extraordinary that Qantas would compete with the likes of St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army for volunteers at Christmas time.” Ms Lang said.
Earlier this week ASU representatives met with Qantas and requested it cease its volunteer program. This morning Qantas formally refused the request. The ASU is likely to raise the issue to the Fair Work Commission.
For further information contact Lauren Hutchins on 0423 029 586.