January 13, 2021


Unions will take Qantas to the High Court today over the airline’s misuse of Jobkeeper which has seen workers ripped off their pay after working public holidays, weekends and overtime.

Instead of paying workers their rightful wages for these shifts Qantas has been manipulating rosters and paying workers no more than basic Jobkeeper of $600 a week.

The Federal Court in September agreed Qantas should pay workers for the shifts they worked but a later court judgement backed the airline. The TWU, FAAA, ACTU and the ASU will today seek leave to appeal this decision in the High Court.

Sick Qantas workers are also in a High Court battle with the airline over its refusal to pay them the leave they have built up over years as they battle cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh said Qantas refusal to pay its workers fairly amounted to wage theft.

“Qantas has been engaging in wage theft, refusing to pay workers fairly and battling them through the courts. Senior Qantas management are back to paying themselves millions of dollars while Qantas workers aren’t even being paid properly for the work they are doing and are being denied the sick leave they are entitled to. The Federal Government and the Qantas board are refusing to hold them to account over this but workers are taking a stand,” McIntosh said.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the unions’ stance was about getting justice for Qantas workers.

“Workers should be paid for the work they do. Qantas is forcing workers to work public holidays, weekends and overtime and then effectively denying them overtime and other penalties they have earned. Workers are standing up to Qantas over this injustice and will take the case all the way to the High Court,” McManus said.

Teri O’Toole Federal Secretary of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia said Qantas workers work hard and do not deserve to be treated in this way.

“Qantas workers are struggling on basic Jobkeeper, they have spent public holidays and weekends away from their families and they should be paid fairly. They should not have to go to court to receive the pay that they have worked for. After years of loyal service and helping Qantas through tough times when it was in financial dire straits, workers feel very let down by the airline right now,” O’Toole said.

ASU Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske said taxpayers had provided significant support to Qantas since the pandemic began but that the airline has failed to put back into the community.

“By now Qantas has received over a billion dollars in public funding in wage subsidies and other financial supports in order to keep it afloat during the crisis. Yet Qantas is denying its workers the pay they are entitled to for the work they have done – in many cases more than $10,000. Qantas workers are asking for fairness from an airline that has received massive taxpayer support,” Gaske said.

Qantas revealed in its latest annual report it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

Media enquiries: 

Judith Crosbie for the TWU: 0432552895


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