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Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’

  • January 13 2021
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Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’

By Cameron Micallef
January 13 2021

Aussie unions are taking their fight with Australia’s largest airline to the High Court following claims Qantas misused the JobKeeper payment to subsidise overtime payments, essentially robbing workers of over $10,000 each.

Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’

Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’

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  • January 13 2021
  • Share

Aussie unions are taking their fight with Australia’s largest airline to the High Court following claims Qantas misused the JobKeeper payment to subsidise overtime payments, essentially robbing workers of over $10,000 each.

Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’

A collection of unions including the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Australian Services Union (ASU), Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has alleged that Qantas has engaged in foul play by refusing to pay its employees their rightful wages for public holidays, weekends and overtime shifts worked during the COVID pandemic. 

The unions claim that Qantas has been manipulating rosters and paying workers no more than the basic JobKeeper amount of $600 per week. 

In September, the Federal Court agreed with the unions, ruling that Qantas should pay workers for the extra shifts, but a later court judgement backed the airline. 

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The court said in December that the airline was allowed to use penalty rates paid in arrears to offset the amount of wage subsidies directly paid to its employees.

Qantas workers battling cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses are also in a High Court battle with the airline over its refusal to pay them leave accrued over the years. 

Drawing attention to the substantial support Qantas has received from the community, ASU assistant national secretary Emeline Gaske said the airline’s workers are being robbed of over $10,000 each. 

“By now, Qantas has received over a billion dollars in public funding in wage subsidies and other financial supports in order to keep it afloat during the crisis. Yet Qantas is denying its workers the pay they are entitled to for the work they have done – in many cases more than $10,000.

“Qantas workers are asking for fairness from an airline that has received massive taxpayer support,” Ms Gaske said.

Going a step further, TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh branded Qantas’ behaviour as “wage theft”, highlighting the CEO’s $24 million pay package. 

“Qantas has been engaging in wage theft, refusing to pay workers fairly and battling them through the courts. Senior Qantas management are back to paying themselves millions of dollars while Qantas workers aren’t even being paid properly for the work they are doing and are being denied the sick leave they are entitled to,” he said.

“The federal government and the Qantas board are refusing to hold them to account over this, but workers are taking a stand,” Mr McIntosh said.

Flight Attendants Association secretary Teri O’Toole revealed that Qantas workers are struggling to make ends meet under the basic JobKeeper wage, which was recently reduced to $1,200 a fortnight as the government moves to wind back the program. 

“They have spent public holidays and weekends away from their families and they should be paid fairly. They should not have to go to court to receive the pay that they have worked for,” she said.

“After years of loyal service and helping Qantas through tough times when it was in financial dire straits, workers feel very let down by the airline.”

Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’
Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper ‘misuse’
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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