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Qantas, JobKeeper and our Penalty Rates

20 April 2020 By ASU, the airlines industry union

On Friday last week, many Qantas employees who had been stood down were expecting their first $1,500 JobKeeper payment.

Qantas had announced that, in order to assist staff, it would bring forward these payments even though they had yet to receive the payment from the government.

However, many of you contacted us over the weekend with concerns that your penalties have been offset against the Qantas advance payment of Jobkeeper. People are stressed about this and fairly questioning what exactly the advantage of working shift work is if there is no incentive for doing so.

When the JobKeeper legislation was passed two weeks ago, we asked Qantas Management how JobKeeper payments will be applied given that Qantas’ payroll system pays the base wage in one pay period and two weeks later employees are paid Shift penalties and Allowances that they worked for the previous period.

Qantas Management has not responded to our questions.

The JobKeeper legislation does not support the approach that Qantas has apparently taken in relation to penalties. We contacted Qantas yesterday about this matter and expect to be able to provide you with Qantas’ response tomorrow.

Quite apart from the legal issues, it’s just appalling that Qantas would use taxpayers' money to exploit its dedicated workforce in such a cruel and disrespectful way.

Unfortunately, it’s the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from a company which refuses to remunerate workers properly for the work they have done, asked employees to work for free at Christmas, stole over $9 million from employees over many years and cut off sick leave from employees suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.

This type of behaviour under the leadership of Alan Joyce and other multimillionaire CEOs has been brought into sharp focus in this ABC News article by Monash University academics who conclude:

Now is the time for boards and CEOs to show that they have skin in the game, genuinely care for employees, and are able to ethically make tough choices. In the meantime, we should maintain a healthy dose of scepticism in the benevolence of their voluntary pay cuts.

Qantas is already a significant beneficiary of the $715 million of waived fees and charges announced by the Government last month and looks set to receive a further package to subsidise flights between capital cities.

Qantas cannot fly a single plane without its committed and hardworking employees – so this taxpayer-funded assistance must be tied to properly and fairly remunerating the Qantas workforce.

Keep an eye out for our next update about this important issue and tell your colleagues to join the ASU today if they are not already members. If you have any questions you can contact your branch Organiser.

PS. Thanks to everyone who came along to our Job Keeper Webinar. Due to overwhelming demand we are organising another session for next week and will let you know details as soon as the session is confirmed

Contact Details
Name: ASU National Office
Telephone: 03 9342 1400