Furious Qantas ground workers set to lose their jobs to outsourcing are marching on Canberra, pleading with the Prime Minister for help.
The latest swath of Qantas workers to lose their jobs as the ailing airline slashes costs are marching on Canberra seeking intervention and want to plead to the Prime Minister directly.
The national carrier confirmed on Monday that 2000 ground staff across 10 Australian airports would be shown the door after a decision to outsource the majority of its ground-handling operations.
It came after months of operational reviews to reduce the size of the business because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry and brings the total job losses at Qantas to about 8500 of its 29,000 pre-pandemic workforce.
The Transport Workers Union submitted a bid on behalf of ground-handling staff to keep their jobs, engaging top four accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) to identify savings and make the proposal viable.
But the bid was unsuccessful, with Qantas chief executive of domestic and international operations Andrew David saying it failed to “outline sufficient practical detail” despite the deadline being extended three times.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said on Wednesday the union had spoken to EY and looked at the numbers again, “and frankly the decision by Qantas makes no sense”.
“Our bid is cheaper than the market average, and when you take into account the efficiencies identified by workers throughout the operation and the fact that these are highly skilled, experienced workers, Qantas should have awarded the bid to its own people,” Mr Kaine said.
“As a result, we are examining all legal avenues to see if we can take this further.”
The union is also taking a delegation of Qantas workers to Canberra on Thursday to ask federal parliament to back the sacked staff.
“We have asked Scott Morrison and Michael McCormack to meet these workers and to hear their pleas for their jobs,’ Mr Kaine said.
“This is not work that is being made redundant because of COVID. This work still needs to be done and yet it is being outsourced, with workers replaced by workers of lower wages and conditions.”
He said the workers wanted to know “what the hundreds of millions spent on Jobkeeper and other financial supports for Qantas was about if it hasn’t saved jobs?”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Qantas has taken on an additional $1.5bn in debt in order to keep afloat and says outsourcing will reduce the overall cost of ground-handling operations by about $103m per year.
Mr David said competitors were also aggressively cutting costs to emerge leaner, and while domestic borders reopening was good news, international travel was not expected to return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2024.
Qantas expects to transition to the new services in the first quarter of 2021.
It has told affected staff there may be some work opportunities with the new suppliers, but redeployment within Qantas is “likely to be limited”.
The airline is also considering moving its headquarters from Sydney to Melbourne as part of its cost-cutting drive.