The Transport Workers’ Union joins the ACTU peak body in challenging Qantas’ discriminatory bonus scheme in court. The TWU criticises Qantas for withholding the bonus from thousands of workers until they sign a new enterprise agreement, while other staff not on enterprise agreements received their cash immediately and without restriction.
The TWU represents nine groups of workers in ground handling and cabin crew who are affected by this bonus scheme. The TWU warns that many workers would have to wait another two years until their current agreement expires. If workers leave or are made redundant during this time, they will not receive their bonus.
“Workers accepted pay freezes when Qantas was suffering losses. From the backs of these workers, Qantas is now making billion-dollar profits. It is without doubt that workers earned these bonuses, but rather than acknowledging and appreciating their efforts Qantas has imposed conditions that did not apply to other workers, including management, who received their cash immediately. Bonuses are historically a reward for hard work, not a bribe to pressure workers into quietly accepting their next agreement and sticking around long enough to receive their reward,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
A Qantas worker told the TWU that accepting an 18 month pay freeze cost them over $7,000 over the course of the enterprise agreement, which expires at the end of this year. If their pay increases were to remain at 3% for the next 20 years, they will have lost out on a total of $50,000 compared to if the freeze had not occurred. On top of this, workers are suffering from the downgrading of superannuation and leave entitlements caused by the freeze.
“Qantas is dangling a half-eaten carrot in front of workers who’ve already lost more than this bonus is worth. I’m proud of my company and my job but Qantas should reflect our efforts through direct wage increases, superannuation and other entitlements rather than conditional one-off bonuses. Otherwise it’s all a sleight of hand that will allow Qantas to continue reaping profits from our hard work,” said a Qantas worker who asked to remain anonymous. (Qantas workers are subject to a strict media policy which restricts their ability to speak out).
The ACTU lodged its legal challenge on behalf of 27,000 Qantas workers to the Fair Work Commission on Monday 24 June.