Three major unions have come together to claim Qantas’ 1 per cent wage increase for workers is nothing more than a “PR stunt”.
In a joint statement, the Australian Services Union (ASU), Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) added the rise is “negligible”, and its members are “severely fatigued”.
It comes after the airline on Thursday said it was targeting an underlying profit before tax of up to $1.3 billion in the first half of the current financial year in a remarkable post-COVID turnaround.
As part of the announcement, Qantas said its annual wage increases would be adjusted from 2 to 3 per cent for 5,000 employees who have already finalised new enterprise agreements.
However, ASU assistant national secretary Emeline Gaske said the rise is of “little financial concern” for the airline amongst its large profit targets and “shrinking workforce”.
She said the trade union has “vowed to draw a line in the sand” as Qantas “attempts to strip workers of their hard-won pay and conditions”.
“Qantas’ claim workers are earning on average over $100,000 also paints an entirely false picture. Qantas Ground Services workers are currently on a base salary of less than half this figure at $45,157,” the statement said.
“Just this week cabin crew have been pushed to the brink,” commented FAAA federal secretary Teri O’Toole, after her union made the first moves to secure the right to strike.
O’Toole said that the additional 1 per cent wage increase alongside the projected $1.2 billion profits was an “insult” to the workers who she said were bullied into “accepting deals that severely decrease their entitlements and work life balance”.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine worried that “this destructive behaviour will continue from Qantas for as long it remains unchecked”.
“The Federal Government must step in with a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to eradicate the dictatorship management style of Qantas executives hungry for bigger bonuses and restore aviation to an industry of good quality jobs and service,” he concluded.
Qantas’ impressive profit forecast for the first half of this financial year comes despite the wider group recording an underlying loss before tax of $1.86 billion in its last full-year results and claiming the pandemic cost its airlines $7 billion in total.
Qantas appears to be taking advantage of pent-up demand for domestic travel, and now believes its revenue for leisure travel is at more than 130 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
It added yields from international markets are “particularly strong” but warned that will moderate as its rivals increase capacity.
In 2022, Qantas has faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy.
Last year, the Federal Court ruled the Flying Kangaroo was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles and subsequently rejected an initial appeal.