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Tag Archives: Qantas

Qantas workers cannot be denied sick leave, says ACTU

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), in keeping with their reputation to doing anything to ensure that the nation’s workers receive their proper contractual award obligations, is going to the High Court to win sick leave entitlements for the workers of Qantas.

According to Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s assistant national secretary, the airline giant colloquially known as an Australian icon, and the giant red kangaroo logo usually being the first thing tourists entering Australia see when they go through the nation’s airports, has not been extending the sick leave entitlement to its employees for a number of years.

In some cases, it has been decades of Qantas workers allowing their sick leave entitlements to accrue, mainly due to the failure of Qantas’s front offices and human resources divisions to invoke its duty of care to extend those entitlements to employees who need it most.

One such hard-hit case is that of Peter Seymour, a 31-year Qantas veteran push-back/aircraft driver based at Sydney Airport who has been battling cancer since receiving his diagnosis a year ago, saying that the company has failed to pay out a single cent of his sick leave entitlement.

“I love my job but that was a huge smack in the face,” Seymour said on Wednesday, as the ACTU was announcing its High Court action with multi-union backing on behalf of the workers of Qantas.

“I was treated just like a number [by the company].

“I could not stay on JobKeeper because I’ve got bills to pay, so I was forced to take redundancy from the company. I’ve just turned 64 and I still have to work, I now have to find a job” despite his cancer diagnosis, Seymour added.

Instead, Seymour had to suffer the further indignity of being contacted by the company via an e-mail that he was being made redundant and forced onto the JobKeeper stimulus – which possesses a much lower rate to award to him than a payout from Qantas – in place of any accrued sick leave entitlement.

“Qantas’ behaviour toward the most unwell people in its workforce has been callous and illegal,” said Connolly, who also cited the case of one other unnamed Qantas employee who after receiving a diagnosis of heart disease, was also given the same fate by the airline company.

“That’s why we fully support this bid to have this matter heard in the High Court,” added Connolly.

The case – being brought under the auspices of the law firm of Maurice Blackburn on behalf of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), all unions with vested interests among Qantas’s workforce – has found its way to the High Court after being rejected in the Federal Court last month.

Maurice Blackburn employment law principal Giri Sivaraman and the ACTU were united in agreement that this case being presided over by the High Court is bound to leave a precedent on workers’ rights cases over any sort of leave entitlements for years to come.

“We say that you can’t stand someone down who is on sick leave, and if you can’t stand them down then you can’t withhold sick leave payments from them,” Sivaraman said outside the High Court in Canberra.

“This appeal is not just important for Qantas employees who’ve been unfairly denied access to their own sick, compassionate, personal or carer’s leave, it’s critical to all workers in Australia who may be stood down in the future,” added Connolly.

As expected, Seymour’s union, the TWU, is not only backing him but potentially countless others whose entitlements may become denied to them by any employer, and not one with the wealth of Qantas.

“Qantas has received over $800 million in [JobKeeper] taxpayers’ support to help it during the pandemic but instead of acting like a responsible employer in return it is trashing lives and trashing jobs,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, whose company has received $800 million in government funding, JobKeeper and otherwise, during the pandemic. (Photo from abc.net.au)

And Kaine believes that any sort of government stipends, stimulus endeavours or other fundings should come with a strict set of terms and conditions, especially when workers’ lives and well-being remains at stake.

“Denying sick workers the leave they have built up and pushing them in some case out of their jobs in order to access redundancy payments to pay bills is utterly despicable.

“The Federal Government could tie conditions to the public money it is pumping into Qantas to force it to act responsibly but it is choosing not to,” added Kaine.

The other unions involved in the ACTU’s case remain resolute and defiant in fighting the case on behalf of all of its workers past, present and future.

“We make no apology for continuing our pursuit to right these wrongs. This is another very important step in the fight to ensure every worker in this country can access their sick leave when they need it most,” said Allen Hicks, the national secretary of the ETU.

“It adds insult to injury for sick Qantas workers who now have to defend their right to sick leave entitlements in the High Court,” said Steve Murphy, the national secretary of the AMWU, who added that the fight in the High Court amid Qantas’s decision could not come at a worse time in 2020.

“Essential workers stepped up during the year from hell, now Qantas is out-of-control, leaving it’s sick workers behind during their time of need – at Christmas,” said Murphy.

 

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This is the ending of the Age of Entitlement . . . for some

Image by couriermail.com.au

Image by couriermail.com.au

“This decision says something significant about this government. We do not believe in government by chequebook . . . We don’t believe in any normal circumstances that government should be playing favourites between private businesses.”

When Tony Abbott made this statement yesterday I thought to myself hang on . . .

“The Federal Government spends over $10 billion per year on subsidies that encourage the production and use of fossil fuels. About $65 million per electorate or, if you want to make it really personal, $430 per taxpayer each year.”

“Abolishing the private health insurance rebate could save the budget $3 billion a year, dwarfing the savings that would be generated by introducing a $6 fee for GP visits, according to a think tank.

The 30 per cent private health insurance rebate was introduced in 1999. Its annual cost has risen faster than any other component of government health spending, from $1.4 billion in 1999-2000 to $5.5 billion in 2012-13.”

“Professor Kevin Davis says the government’s guarantee of all bank, building society and credit union deposits up to $250,000 is far too generous and is damaging the business of life insurance companies, finance companies and other non-bank financial institutions.

Professor Davis said the guarantees had contributed to falling sales of life insurance products, finance company debentures, cash management products and property trusts, while the amount of retail savings held in government guaranteed bank deposits had soared.”

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott has chided Labor for pursuing him over a $16 million grant to Cadbury on the day Qantas announced the axing of 5000 jobs.

Labor asked five questions of the prime minister, quizzing him about the role Alastair Furnival – a former chief of staff to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash – played in the decision.

Mr Abbott revealed Mr Furnival was employed by Cadbury as an economist when the coalition announced, as an election promise, funding to assist the company upgrade and reopen the visitors centre at its Hobart chocolate factory.

Opposition Health spokeswoman Catherine King wanted to know whether Mr Furnival or his wife’s lobbying firm, Australian Public Affairs, would directly benefit from the funding.”

“Within minutes of Treasurer Joe Hockey declaring an end to ”the age of entitlement” on Monday, assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs stood on a highway on the outskirts of Hobart and announced a grant of $3.5 million to a Tasmanian seafoods manufacturer, Huon Aquaculture.

It would help ”provide the equipment to process fresh fish, as well as smokehouses and other machinery for boning, skinning, portioning and mincing”, he said.”

“Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart and fellow billionaire Andrew Forrest shared in more than $100,000 worth of taxpayer-funded handouts in their companies under Royalties for Regions last financial year.

“While the WA Government announced last week it was increasing household fees to manage “the state’s finances in difficult times”, in 2011-12 it handed $61,829 for an “innovative drilling” program, to Mr Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, which is worth about $10.74 billion.

And though the Government has been demanding “efficiency” cuts from its agencies for the past four years, it gave a further $38,551 from the same program to Hancock Prospecting, whose boss, Mrs Rinehart, was last year reported as earning about $600 a second.

Since 2009, the drilling program, which is part of the royalties’ Exploration Incentive Scheme, has paid more than $9.2 million to resource companies, some worth several hundred million dollars.”

“Ah, but the age of entitlement is over”, we’re told. Unless you happen to be a needy football club, that is. During the election campaign, Abbott promised $5 million to the Brisbane Broncos – owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, no less – to ”kick-start the revitalisation” of their ”sporting precinct at Red Hill”. The Manly Sea Eagles were offered $10 million to renovate Brookvale Oval, which just happens to be in Abbott’s electorate of Warringah and where he’s the number one ticket holder.”

“Farmers across drought-stricken Queensland and New South Wales are relieved the talk of being tough on handouts hasn’t stopped the Federal Government announcing a multi-million-dollar package of drought assistance.”

Consistency anyone?

Repealing the carbon tax won’t help Qantas

The whole of question time today was devoted to the government saying “If you want to help Qantas then repeal the carbon tax.”

Has everybody forgotten what happened to Qantas before we had a carbon tax?

This is from May 2011.

“Qantas will have to raise international airfares to Europe from January next year after the European Union penalised the airline because Australia does not have a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

Under changes to the EU’s emissions trading scheme, Qantas would be forced to pay a tax on 15 per cent of its carbon emissions from its nearest port of call, the national carrier told a meeting of business leaders in Canberra this week.

This means flights to ports as far away as Singapore and Bangkok would be taxed under a “border tax” adjustment contained in the EU scheme.

Qantas confirmed it would be hit by the impost, The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday.

The airline is still calculating the likely impact on ticket prices and a spokeswoman said the carrier would face a second carbon hit on flights into Britain when Britain’s “green tax” took effect.

Qantas would be faced with the tax because its headquarters is in Australia, which does not have a price on carbon.

The charge would be levied on the airline’s last port of departure, which in Qantas’s case would be Bangkok or Singapore.”

And this from July 2011.

“To illustrate the risks facing us if we do not act, let’s consider the case of Qantas, who now faces an initial carbon tax penalty of 15% on its carbon emissions for any flights it makes into or out of Europe. This penalty will increase over time, and is payed directly into the coffers of the European Union. The reason for its imposition is specifically because Australian does not have carbon price in place.

Over the next few years, the European Union will expand its penalty regime to impose general sanctions on countries that do not meet its standards on carbon reduction mechanisms.”

No wonder Alan Joyce isn’t mentioning the carbon tax.

An article in the SMH from May 2011 said

“In the end climate change and carbon pricing is a debate we will have, in spite of Rupert Murdoch’s trained orcs and trolls scaring the bejesus out of people like Dick Smith.

Smith yesterday admitted he hadn’t joined Cate Blanchett in her pro-carbon tax ad, because he was scared of being vilified by the Murdoch press. Not just the Piers Boltbrechtson hive mind, but the journalists, and headline writers, the photographers and moderators and serried ranks of deniers and abusers who have gone to war with science and the future on Rupert’s whim.

I must admit, I think less of Smith for that, and a lot more of Blanchett. After all, her career and livelihood arguably depends more on maintaining a happy, unconflicted public image than his. And she would have known, as he did, what was coming when she shot that advert.

But she probably knew much worse was coming anyway, if Abbott and Murdoch’s goon squad get their way and this debate becomes less about science than it is about thuggery and wilful ignorance.”

When Globe International reported this week that

“Nations have passed almost 500 laws to tackle climate change, with emerging economies led by Mexico and China making the most progress last year. A total of 62 out of the 66 countries examined have passed or are working on “significant” climate or energy-related laws.”

you don’t really want to be the only country repealing action on climate change.

If we really want to help Qantas we will keep carbon pricing so they, and all other exporters, won’t be penalised by countries who are introducing emission reduction legislation.

Why do they never consider cutting GST to alleviate cost pressure?

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