Qantas outsourcing fight off to High Court

The ACTU says Qantas boss Alan Joyce should focus on repaying people for investing in the airline.

The ACTU says Qantas boss Alan Joyce should focus on repaying people for investing in the airline. Photo: AAP

Qantas has won the right to continue the legal fight over its controversial decision to outsource more than 1600 workers at the height of the pandemic.

The airline has been granted special leave to appeal two rulings by the Federal Court, which found the outsourcing of baggage handlers, cleaners and ground staff was illegal.

Qantas was found to have breached the Fair Work Act in outsourcing its ground operations to avoid enterprise bargaining rights.

The company will present its case to the High Court next year.

“At its core, this case is about Qantas’ ability to legally outsource a function to save more than $100 million a year when it was struggling to remain solvent,” Qantas said in a statement on Friday.

“We’ve always expressed our deep regret that our ground handlers, and thousands more across the group, had to lose their jobs as the pandemic hit us.”

Qantas reports $2 billion loss

The Transport Workers Union, which brought the Federal Court case against Qantas, has vowed to mount the “strongest possible case” in the High Court.

“While it is deeply disappointing for workers, it’s clear the High Court believes it’s in the public interest to hear such an extraordinary case which has sent shock waves across the economy and plunged Qantas into chaos,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“Despite the ongoing crisis at the airline, overpaid executives stand by their illegal actions so vehemently they are dragging out a costly legal battle rather than reinstate or compensate the experienced workers who built the spirit of Australia.”

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said Qantas received a huge amount of taxpayer-funded financial support throughout the pandemic. In return, it had stripped rights and wages from employees, and hollowed out services.

Ms McManus said Qantas boss Alan Joyce should focus on providing Australian taxpayers something to show for their massive investment in the airline, rather than arguing against better rights for his workers.


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