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Qantas plans to slash another 2,500 Aussie jobs

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
Two Qantas planes are seen at at Melbourne Airport on August 20, 2020. - Australian flag carrier Qantas on August 20, 2020 posted an almost 2 billion USD annual loss after a "near-total collapse" in demand due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Qantas plans to cut another 2,400 jobs. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Qantas is proposing cuts to another 2,500 jobs by outsourcing ground handling as the major airline remains largely grounded.

The Flying Kangaroo announced 6,000 redundancies earlier in the year as the Covid-19 pandemic took international travel to a standstill, and last week revealed its profit had plunged 91 per cent.

Qantas said it doesn’t expect international travel to resume until mid-2021 at the earliest, with CEO Alan Joyce describing these as the “worst trading conditions in our 100-year history”.

The plan to outsource ground handling is expected to save the company around $100 million annually, with employees briefed on Tuesday ahead of union negotiations.

Affected workers include those based at Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Darwin, Perth and Alice Springs airports.

Qantas employees will be able to “bid” for their work under the enterprise bargaining agreement.

“In line with their enterprise bargaining agreement, employees will have an opportunity to provide a bid for the work and representatives be provided paid time and support to do this. They will need to demonstrate they can deliver on the objectives Qantas needs to meet,” Qantas said.

Following the bid and the review, Qantas will make a decision on whether to outsource all ground handling operations, affecting some 2,000 jobs.

Another 370 jobs at Jetstar are also on the chopping block along with 50 jobs in Qantas’ bus service.

“Today’s announcement will be very tough for our hard working teams, most of whom have already been stood down for months without work,” Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said.

“This obviously adds to the uncertainty but this is the unfortunate reality of what Covid-19 has done to our industry.”

Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans said the decision will be “extremely difficult news” for Jetstar staff and their families.

“Unfortunately this ongoing crisis means we have to make some really tough decisions which impact our team members who have provided a consistent and professional operation over many years,” Evans said.

Unions hit back

Labor MP Catherine King said today’s cuts highlights the need for support for the Australian aviation industry.

“Coming so soon after previous announcement of 6,000 job losses at Qantas and 3,000 at Virgin Australia, these losses will be another devastating blow for Australian workers and an industry in crisis,” she said.

“Australia will need our aviation industry as we emerge from this crisis, but it cannot survive on a wing and a prayer.”

The Transport Workers Union responded by calling for the Qantas CEO to resign, describing today’s announcement as “economic violence”.

“If Alan Joyce’s only plan is two wield the axe on thousands of loyal staff, he should resign,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“This is not shrewd management, it is economic violence. Qantas has taken millions in JobKeeper wage subsidies, more than any other company, with the express intent of keeping people employed. But now Alan Joyce wants to destroy thousands more livelihoods. This is callous abuse of public money. The chief executive must resign.”

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