The TWU’s national secretary has been re-elected for a new four-year term and responded by vowing to “rein in the Qantas dictatorship”.
Michael Kaine said his win, along with assistant Nick McIntosh, was a “powerful endorsement” of their strategy to lift standards for all workers.
“Brave aviation workers rocked the business world, defeating Qantas not once but twice in the Federal Court over their illegal sackings,” said Kaine.
“There is a steep uphill climb, but a challenge workers are ready to take on, to rebuild aviation and prise the industry from the grasp of unscrupulous executives lining their own pockets at the expense of workers, passengers and the Australian taxpayer.”
Kaine was referring to the TWU’s victory against the Flying Kangaroo in the Federal Court, which ruled Qantas was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles.
“Last year, we saw thousands of transport workers stand up and face off job security threats brought by the unregulated gig tsunami,” he added.
“We’re seeing the unity of transport workers reflected throughout the industry, with supply chain clients, gig companies, major transport operators and industry groups linking arms with workers to call for reform for a fairer, safer and more sustainable transport industry.
“It’s a privilege to stand at the helm of a union that will not relent in our mission to save lives on our roads, lift industry standards, and end unfair, exploitative tactics to pit workers against one other.”
Kaine began his career at the TWU NSW Branch in 1999 as the organiser responsible for owner drivers in trucking, leading worker actions to protect enforceable standards for transport workers in the state.
He was later part of the Safe Rates Advisory Group of the Gillard Labor Government, which created the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
National assistant secretary McIntosh said, “There’s a buzz in the industry and particularly within our membership that we are on the cusp of reviving transport from an industry all-but abandoned by the former government, hanging on by a thread with deadly consequences, to a prosperous industry where all participants can thrive.”
The pair’s tenure has not been without controversy. In September 2020, the TWU gathered outside Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s private home to protest. The union said the dramatic action was necessary because “there’s no way else to communicate with him”.
The TWU is currently pushing for a return to multi-employer bargaining and, crucially, allowing workers to strike on behalf of those employed at other companies.
“It’s not about an uncontrolled upward spiral of wages and conditions,” said Kaine.
“It’s about saving the economy from complete fragmentation where workers have no power (and) where the companies that engage them have no commercial power to dictate their future.
“That’s not good for economic growth. It’s certainly not good for making sure workers are getting a share of the economy.”