Qantas staff bidding for jobs not given fair go, says EY

posted on 17th September 2020 by Eddie Saunders
Qantas staff bidding for jobs not given fair go, says EY

By Adam Thorn,

The TWU will present a report to the Fair Work Commission by Ernst & Young that will argue ground handlers bidding to keep their jobs haven’t been given a realistic chance of success.

The union commissioned the professional services firm to assess the competitive process and it concluded Qantas management needs to give staff more information on cost savings and provide an assessment on how it will maintain standards if it cuts costs.

Qantas has repeatedly denied the claims and said in response that the TWU is “misrepresenting the situation”, “misleading its members” and will “vigorously defend” the union’s claims.

Last month, Qantas announced 2,000 more jobs are at risk because the business is considering outsourcing its remaining ground-handling operations, subject to hearing bids from both private contractors as well as in-house staff.

Qantas’ plans would see the airline brand remove operations at the 10 Australian airports where the work is done in-house, which includes Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville.

Before a final decision is made, the company is giving staff the chance to compile an in-house bid to rival those made by external organisations.

The TWU, however, has concerns over that process and last week began taking Qantas to a Fair Work Commission tribunal where it argued employees haven’t been given enough time to prepare their alternative proposal.

“We will tell the Fair Work Commission today that Qantas management has deliberately set an unfair process and we will ask for workers to have more time and more information to bid for their jobs,” the union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said.

“Qantas management is using the pandemic to prey on the community. It is being pumped with public money to keep it alive, it has set a bidding war among the states desperate to boost jobs to relocate its headquarters and it is axing and outsourcing jobs.”

Qantas earlier said in response that “no decision has been made” yet and that “employee representatives will be provided paid time off as well as support from subject matter experts within the business to respond to the proposal and prepare an in-house bid”.

Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how the TWU has hired the heavyweight lawyer who helped win the infamous Waterfront dispute to challenge Qantas’ proposed job cuts.

The union said it would hire Josh Bornstein because of the apparent similarities between this case and the 1997 Waterfront dispute, which saw seaport operator Patrick Corporation dismiss its unionised workforce.

The decision was later found to be illegal in the Federal Court.

The lawyer was also recently awarded the “Workplace Relations Partner of the Year 2019” at the Lawyers Weekly Partner of the Year Awards and has been ranked as Victoria’s top employment lawyer for employees.

His clients have included broadcaster Ross Stevenson, publisher Louise Adler, the State of Victoria, Essendon Football Club and writers Marieke Hardy and Clementine Ford.