September 14, 2023

Qantas workers win: High Court confirms sackings were illegal

In August 2020, Qantas made the decision to sack 1,700 workers, and instead outsource its operations to ground handling operators. With the backing of the Transport Workers’ Union, the former Qantas workers united to take the airline to court, with claims that Qantas had illegally outsourced their roles to avoid industrial action, and had therefore breached the Fair Work Act.

The Federal Court ruled in our favour twice, finding Qantas acted illegally — but the airline appealed this to the High Court.

On Wednesday, 13 September 2023, seven High Court judges were unanimous in their decision to side with the workers once again that Qantas had illegally sacked and outsourced their workforce. With all legal avenues exhausted, Qantas will now have to pay compensation.

We are calling on new CEO, Vanessa Hudson to commit to a fast approach to compensating these workers, and concluding the Federal Court proceedings.

Qantas now faces three further court challenges:

  • An unprecedented criminal prosecution from the NSW safety regulator for standing down a health and safety representative during the pandemic.
  • Record penalties of $600 million sought by the ACCC for selling cancelled flights.
  • A class action from angry customers who say they were misled and denied refunds.

We know that this destructive business model will have a lasting impact on Qantas and its’ operations, and that the Closing the Labour Loopholes Bill must be passed by the Federal Government to ensure that the industry can work towards safety and sustainability once again.


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