In a historic win for trade unions, Australia’s federal court ruled in favor of the Transport Workers Union’s case against airline giant Qantas. The outsourcing scandal saw over 2,000 employees laid off amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Friday morning Justice Michael Lee said he was not convinced of the evidence put forth by Qantas – Australia’s most dominating airline – that the laying off of thousands of employees was not, at least in part, motivated by their union membership.
Qantas dismissed more than 2,000 ground handlers during the pandemic, whose roles were outsourced to save money for the corporation, which in 2019 recorded AU$18 billion ($13.2 billion) in revenue.
The TWU employed Josh Bornstein as its head lawyer to argue the airline’s actions contravened the Fair Work Act. The case was centered around claims that Qantas’s bullish moves, led by CEO Alan Joyce were made to squash the union’s power in wage negotiations.
The union’s lawyer said that Qantas had “lost” in the case, and highlighted that large companies have used outsourcing for decades to prevent employees from being able to collectively bargain with them, suggesting that the court’s decision should be used as precedent in future worker’s rights cases.
Qantas have denied any wrongdoing and in an official statement on Friday said that the judgment does not mean Qantas is required to reinstate workers or pay compensation or penalties,” claiming that the matters have not yet been considered by the court and they will oppose any such orders.
Qantas will also seek to have its appeal heard as soon as possible and before any remedy hearing. The company justified the outsourcing by claiming it would save its owners and investors AU$100 million (about $73.5 million) a year.
As part of their official statement in response to Friday’s ruling, Qantas called the union “hypocritical” and said their behavior – referring to their effort to protect workers’ rights – undermines the strong safety culture that exists throughout Australian aviation.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Aviation News 2021.