Qantas lays off more workers in the wake of COVID

Is quality at the world’s safest airline about to go downhill? Probably.

From The Age:

Qantas has confirmed it will retrench another 2000 workers and outsource all ground handling work at major Australian airports after rejecting a bid by employees to save their jobs.

The redundancies will be completed early next year and bring the number of workers Qantas has laid-off since the start of the COVID-19 crisis to around 8500, or close to a third of its pre-pandemic workforce.

Qantas announced a review of its ground operations in August, looking to save up to $100 million by shifting baggage handling, aircraft cleaning and ground support work to third-party providers at 11 major airports.

The affected workers were able to “bid” to keep the work by outlining how they could do it more cheaply than a third party but Qantas said on Monday it had not accepted the proposal put forward by the Transport Workers Union.

The national airline is in a slow death spiral with this latest round of worker cuts.

It’s high time to nationalise Qantas so we can revitalise the internal tourism industry and ensure the high quality workforce remains intact before its too late, as the fallout from COVID-19 will still likely devastate global air travel for at least 12 months or more. It’s time for the Federal government to step in and save The Flying Kangaroo – the one off cost will more than offset the costs of bailing it out next year or when the next pandemic arrives at our shores.

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    • my work’s instrument for rank and file employees still contains a forage allowance if they take their horse on a work trip!! some of those old conditions never get taken out as the union wants you to buy them out!!

  1. pro-scienceMEMBER

    I keep getting censored on this website. I will be heading for greener pastures as soon as my subscription runs out.

    • That would be relevant if management wanted other than “not TWU”. But I am just guessing.

      • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

        +1 Bang on there. Qantas would knock anything back unless it was a proposal to deregister.

        • The union at my place is under the same delusion. The choice isn’t (a) what we have now and (b) some compromise. The real options are (c) what is minimum wage for this role based on a modern award and (d) what will some ‘innovative’ labour hire who plays it a little loose be able to swing?

          Both (c) and (d) were likely much better than the TWU’s (b).

          For operators who play it above board (c) is the real floor and that is usually significantly BELOW the cost of what is in most Enterprise Agreements (I blame spineless management in the past and overly efficient / long term greedy union bosses).

  2. Shades of MessinaMEMBER

    Does outsourcing baggage handling and/cleaning really affect the quality ?. Certainly won’t impact the cabin crew you are subjected to on domestic flights.

    I would be more concerned if they were shifting the maintenance wholesale offshore (suspect they probably are already doing part of it).

    • They have already done that haven’t they?
      I knew a maintenance engineer for Qantas whose job got moved to Vietnam.

    • Well, lets see what senior management does in the event more instances of ‘hangar rash’ occur than planned for, thanks to over-enthusiastic baggage trolley drivers – a) wave the jet off anyway or b) insist overstretched engineering do the ‘thorough examination’ they’re required to do in such circumstances?

    • Pauly 📡MEMBER

      Lost and smashed bags become a line item on someones insurance policy. They probably are, but now Q can wash their hands of it more so.

    • Outsourcing baggage handling will be a boon for the drug trade. Consider cheaper cocaine a bonus along with cheaper flights.

  3. Is whats his face CEO still taking his multi million dollar salary, still getting his multi million dollar bonuses.
    Wont that be a good look after laying off more workers.

  4. My understanding is that this is where QANTAS was heading regardless. The current situation just sped things up a bit. I’ve heard of counter staff just switching uniforms to work the different airline check in areas. It’d be interesting to know whether that is accurate of just rumour.

    • Someone should invent an app for that. Then they can sit in the airport lounge and wait for one of the check in desks to advertise a job, then just jump in and pick it up. Uber for airlines.

  5. they are not being laid off. They are keeping their jobs just on lower pay and conditions via a sham contracting arrangement.

    • Agreed. Current workers paying the price for a legacy EA and conditions that is obviously far above the market given we keep importing “skilled” immigrants to do all types of non-skilled labour.

      That said, I don’t see how this impacts safety as implied by CB.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Baggage handlers have a role in screening biosecurity, safety and security (think explosive) and contraband et al. I suspect the lower paid, less engaged labour hire types who work for a 3rd company rather than Qantas itself might pay less attention (or be easier to bride) to over look certain things. Just speculation, but that is where the ‘safety’ angle comes in.

        • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

          The blokes I have seen throwing bags on and off planes don’t seem to have much of an interest in screening for explosives !!.

          Unless that is their way of looking for unstable sources.

          • Tiliqua scincoidesMEMBER

            Plenty of examples of Qantas baggage handlers running drug importation syndicates – look it up. In Sydney most of them were bra boys at one time.

    • At least until they can be replaced by foreign immigrants on even cheaper pay and worse conditions.

      • Better conditions than where they come from. We are being reinvented as a no/low skill and deindustrialised Kleptocracy that has more in common with the Third World.

  6. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “It’s high time to nationalise Qantas”

    Well I of course agree.
    But there would be little chance of that happening with an ALP federal government let alone our current LNP one!
    Are you trying to be funny?

  7. I’d come to the conclusion that ultimately Qantas will outsource everything and have Alan Joyce as its sole employee while every other staff function and piece of equipment is leased, sub-leased or otherwise contracted through a third party supplier.

    • Modern corporations at their best – only decision makers in a company and everything for tender. Never mind that in the long run its more expensive as you’ve added a middle man, you’ve lost any competitive advantage since your competitors are probably using many of the same suppliers and/or can see what your doing via your RFQ process, and what is built isn’t done for the long term with no processes and/or systems truly integrating correctly.

        • Think about the bonuses if they hit their financial KPI’s…with little thought given to the future of the company, its employees, service levels and customers.

  8. robert2013MEMBER

    I wonder why the employee bid was rejected. If this was a few years ago the rest of the airline staff would have walked off the job to prevent this happening.

  9. BILLIONS thrown away with dividends and share buybacks.
    Alan Joyce sits on his thrown earning $12M and says you will need mandatory covid vaccine to fly.
    They throw away staff like trash and still own tens of millions in refunds to clients who had to wait months to get it back.
    It’s a disaster.

  10. Lets face it, Qantas would be better off if Singapore Airlines bought it out. The airline would be less ‘woke’ with SJW Joyce gone, and the cabin staff far more attractive.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Yeah I have so much more respect for airlines that still hire hot chicks as hostesses! That’s why I fly the middle eastern ones. The hottest of Orientals and eastern euros.

  11. Mike Herman TroutMEMBER

    I think this is the start of the lay offs across a number of organisations. To do it in the middle of the pandemic would have been poor optics. Fasten your seat belts?

  12. Time to Nationalise was 6 months ago.

    I wonder how much Qantas claimed in JobKeeper for the 2000 workers.

  13. Have to ask the obvious question – why not just let it fail? Aviation is not an essential service; its not like we need to fly – there are many people particularly of a lower socioeconomic background that have only boarded a plane a few times in their lives. That tax money would be better spent on almost any other community infrastructure/services and would have more far reaching impact/bang for buck for the local community.

    It’s also a highly competitive industry with few monopoly benefits to enjoy so the benefits of nationalization for the community are low. It’s becoming less and less Australian by the day since we aren’t competitive locally anymore; and aviation is one of the easiest industries to outsource to another country. We don’t have a competitive advantage in it; as evidenced by outsourcing and offshoring every time there is a downturn. Aviation IMO doesn’t have long term job prospects in this country; other than basic ground operations that will increasingly be more and more automated and labor hired as evidenced by this article.

  14. Jumping jack flash

    “It’s high time to nationalise Qantas…”
    Lol. No.
    There’s plenty of essential services that they should choose for nationalisation first, if they were even in the mood to do that.

    The Thatcherism is still very strong. Maybe with time it will be necessary to nationalise but not yet. Thatcherism works when everyone has plenty of money to pay for it. Debt is as good as money, and we’re just about to get a truckload dropped in.

  15. For those calling for the Govt to nationalise it, have you thought that Qantas is actually preparing to be nationalised. The less staff they have, the less the Govt will have to pay out in guaranteed entitlements when the thing folds. They are actually saving the taxpayer a fortune.

  16. David WilsonMEMBER

    Good to see the push back against the militants in the TWU by Qantas as the original sales agreement of the airline had many difficult expensive old work practices built in that made baggage handling expensive.
    The airline business is very competitive and our antiquated work practices including 37.5 hour weeks, 4 weeks annual leave, 2 weeks sick pay.., long service leave, 9.5% super, 2 weeks public holiday leave plus other family issue benefits etc all make employing any Australians almost untenable. Those pushing public ownership should get a life as the airline was previously propped up and protected by government largesse to protect virtually government workers that were lazy and overpaid.
    If we want an airline that will thrive and survive it must be competitive.