Occupy Qantas

Qantas is the latest to blame the unions and their employees for grounding their entire fleet, throwing air travel for Australian and international customers into turmoil.

Alan Joyce believes the union’s demands in the pay dispute are unrealistic and will not bow to pressure to agree to their terms. This coming from a man, who was just, less than 24 hours ago, granted a pay rise at the Qantas AGM.

CEO’s are getting huge pay rises year after year, running into the tens of millions of dollars. It is this 1%, the wealthy people who have control of how the world works. The other 99% of us are expected to fall into line with no complaints.

The Qantas drama has coincided with the Occupy protests currently happening from Wall Street in the US, to Toronto in Canada and here in Melbourne, Australia.

John Carpenter’s movie “They Live” was released back in 1988, and it bears a frightening resemblance to what is happening in the world today. Replace the alien beings with corporate CEO’s, politicians, the wealthy and the police force, and you have the people, corporations and organisations who are telling us to stay sleeping, to consume and not question authority.

The police have taken to beating peaceful protestors to get their message across, even going so far as to contact web services such as You Tube to remove such damning footage. Perhaps we need those special sunglasses from “They Live” to allow others to see what is before them; corporate greed and it is the 99% of us that is suffering.

If all else fails, let’s call in ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper to get the job done.


10 thoughts on “Occupy Qantas

  1. Jared says:

    Totally agree with QANTAS. I am a business customer who chooses to fly QANTAS because they cater to my needs. Then the unions come along making demands and using tactics that USES ME AS A PAWN. I am not a pawn that the unions can use to get their demands. Shame on the unions!!!!! Someone needs to take the unions on with their underhanded tactics trying to blackmail a company that assists the Australian economy and allows ordinary people like me to do business. I am the 99% and I do not agree with you.

    • You don’t believe that Alan Joyce is using you and other customers as pawns in his own little game? He received a 71% pay rise a little over 24 hours ago. Qantas will be losing $20m per day due to his decision to ground the entire fleet. If he remained in negotiations with the unions, Qantas was losing only $15m per WEEK in comparison. The unions are fighting for a 2.5% pay increase in line with inflation. You don’t believe it is fair for employees to ask for that?

      • Jared says:

        The airline SHOULD NOT be losing anything, his actions in the long term will probably mean that QANTAS loses less then if he keeps allowing the unions to control the situation by using me a pawn. Seriously, the next time the union takes action and I have a flight cancelled I will be sending them a bill for my lost time, costs incurred etc and I will publicly promote others to do so. If enough of the 99% does it we could bring the unions down. We would not be in this situation if the unions were not blackmailing QANTAS. I am an ordinary Australian trying to put food on my table who TOTALLY disagrees with the union actions. I have no trouble with a group of people attempting to a better work deal, totally fair, the unions have gone way to far. I just negotiated a better deal at my place of employment, no unions involved. And also, does Alan Joyce deserve the pay rise, maybe/maybe not, that is not my issue here. The unions have done this, they should be blamed, they are putting me out and costing me money by their underhanded tactics. Again I say, I am the 99% and the unions need to be brought to account.

      • I hardly think one person negotiating a better deal at their place of employment compares to the thousands who work for Qantas. Alan Joyce was the one who made the decision to ground the fleet. It is not the union members who said they will not work from Monday onwards. Yes, the unions have had some stop-work protests, but that fails to compare in comparison with the CEO of Qantas pushing them out of a job simply because he has the power to do so.
        I can understand how frustrating it would be for the customers stranded because of this. But Alan Joyce made his bed, and now he has to lie in it.

  2. Agreed. What on earth was Qantas thinking? Even if you’re a diehard capitalist you would recognise that Qantas’ action could really damage our international reputation and the whole tourism industry.

  3. Jared says:

    Sorry we will have to agree to disagree. I am an average Australian, born into no money, making my own way, paying off my own house to a bank who extorts me for the privilege. I have also started and run my own businesses (with employees), but currently am in employed work. If someone can work their way up to earn millions, good on them, well done. If someone can become skilled enough to even take a position like CEO of an international carrier, well they are worth a lot, because their decisions employ thousands. My employment negotiations was with a group of 80 staff (together), we could have bought a union in to do the work, but decided against it because of the way they operate.

    The unions have created this situation, it is their bed we are now lying in, they have blackmailed alan joyce into a corner and he had to act. The unions did not have stop-work protests, they interrupted the experience of customers and cost the company a lot of money. That is economic terrorism and they should held to account.

  4. Jane says:

    Qantas is a huge company making massive profits. They can afford to pay staff decently and give them job security.
    What Joyce is doing is appalling. Its a “might is right” strategy, it exposes exactly the kind of rampant corporate greed that the occupy movement is protesting against.
    Qantus and so many other companies are breaking the social pact that companies have to have if capitalism is to remain a sustainable system.
    I agree with the article and I’m not sure I understand why Jared is blaming the unions for Joyce’s decisions. And I certainly would challenge the assumption that Joyce must be skilled and worth alot just because he has obtained the job he has.
    A quick look at recent history for example Enron and the whole GFC is enough to show that the people hired to lead corporations are frequently incompetent and sometimes utterly fraudulent.

  5. This confirms what others have been saying for a while about how Qantas is subsidising Jetstar to its own detriment and to circumvent the Qantas Sale Act.
    For those who haven’t seen it, Senator Xenophon’s speech of 23rd Aug is reproduced below.

    Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (19:37): I rise to speak tonight on an issue that is close to the hearts of many Australians, and that is the future of our national carrier, Qantas. At 90, Qantas is the world’s oldest continuously running airline. It is an iconic Australian company. Its story is woven into the story of Australia and Australians have long taken pride in the service and safety standards provided by our national carrier. Who didn’t feel a little proud when Dustin Hoffman uttered the immortal line in Rain Man, ‘Qantas never crashed’?

    While it is true that Qantas never crashes, the sad reality is that Qantas is being deliberately trashed by management in the pursuit of short-term profits and at the expense of its workers and passengers. For a long time, Qantas management has been pushing the line that Qantas international is losing money and that Jetstar is profitable. Tonight, it is imperative to expose those claims for the misinformation they are. The reality is that Qantas has long been used to subsidise Jetstar in order to make Jetstar look profitable and Qantas look like a burden. In a moment, I will provide detailed allegations of cost-shifting that I have sourced from within the Qantas Group, and when you know the facts you quickly see a pattern. When there is a cost to be paid, Qantas pays it, and when there is a profit to be made, Jetstar makes it.

    But first we need to ask ourselves: why? Why would management want Qantas to look unprofitable? Why would they want to hide the cost of a competing brand within their group, namely Jetstar, in amongst the costs faced by Qantas?

    To understand that, you need to go back to the days when Qantas was being privatised. When Qantas was privatised the Qantas Sale Act 1992 imposed a number of conditions, which in turn created a number of problems for any management group that wanted to flog off parts of the business. Basically, Qantas has to maintain its principal place of operations here in Australia, but that does not stop management selling any subsidiaries, which brings us to Jetstar.

    Qantas has systematically built up the low-cost carrier at the expense of the parent company. I have been provided with a significant number of examples where costs which should have been billed back to Jetstar have in fact been paid for by Qantas. These are practices that I believe Qantas and Jetstar management need to explain. For example, when Jetstar took over the Cairns-Darwin-Singapore route, replacing Qantas flights, a deal was struck that required Qantas to provide Jetstar with $6 million a year in revenue. Why? Why would one part of the business give up a profitable route like that and then be asked to pay for the privilege? Then there are other subsidies when it comes to freight. On every sector Jetstar operates an A330, Qantas pays $6,200 to $6,400 for freight space regardless of actual uplift. When you do the calculations, this turns out to be a small fortune. Based on 82 departures a week, that is nearly half-a-million dollars a week or $25½ million a year.

    Then there are the arrangements within the airport gates. In Melbourne, for example, my information from inside the Qantas group is that Jetstar does not pay for any gates, but instead Qantas domestic is charged for the gates. My question for Qantas management is simple: are these arrangements replicated right around Australia and why is Qantas paying Jetstar’s bills? Why does Qantas lease five check-in counters at Sydney Terminal 2, only to let Jetstar use one for free? It has been reported to me that there are other areas where Jetstar’s costs magically become Qantas’s costs. For example, Jetstar does not have a treasury department and has only one person in government affairs. I am told Qantas’s legal department also does free work for Jetstar.

    Then there is the area of disruption handling where flights are cancelled and people need to be rebooked. Here, insiders tell me, Qantas handles all rebookings and the traffic is all one way. It is extremely rare for a Qantas passenger to be rebooked on a Jetstar flight, but Jetstar passengers are regularly rebooked onto Qantas flights. I am informed that Jetstar never pays Qantas for the cost of those rebooked passengers and yet Jetstar gets to keep the revenue from the original bookings. This, I am told, is worth millions of dollars every year. So Jetstar gets the profit while Qantas bears the costs of carriage. It has also been reported to me that when Qantas provides an aircraft to Jetstar to cover an unserviceable plane, Jetstar does not pay for the use of this plane.

    Yet another example relates to the Qantas Club. Jetstar passengers can and do use the Qantas Club but Jetstar does not pay for the cost of any of this. So is Qantas really losing money? Or is it profitable but simply losing money on paper because it is carrying so many costs incurred by Jetstar? We have been told by Qantas management that the changes that will effectively gut Qantas are necessary because Qantas international is losing money but, given the inside information I have just detailed, I would argue those claims need to be reassessed.

    Indeed, given these extensive allegations of hidden costs, it would be foolish to take management’s word that Qantas international is losing money. So why would Qantas want to make it look like Qantas international is losing money? Remember the failed 2007 private equity bid by the Allco Finance Group. It was rejected by shareholders, and thank goodness it was, for I am told that what we are seeing now is effectively a strategy of private equity sell-off by stealth.

    Here is how it works. You have to keep Qantas flying to avoid breaching the Qantas Sale Act but that does not stop you from moving assets out of Qantas and putting them into an airline that you own but that is not controlled by the Qantas Sale Act. Then you work the figures to make it appear as though the international arm of Qantas is losing money. You use this to justify the slashing of jobs, maintenance standards and employment of foreign crews and, ultimately, the creation of an entirely new airlines to be based in Asia and which will not be called Qantas. The end result? Technically Qantas would still exist but it would end up a shell of its former self and the Qantas Group would end up with all these subsidiaries it can base overseas using poorly paid foreign crews with engineering and safety standards that do not match Australian standards. In time, if the Qantas Group wants to make a buck, they can flog these subsidiaries off for a tidy profit. Qantas management could pay the National Boys Choir and the Australian Girls’ Choir to run to the desert and sing about still calling Australia home, but people would not buy it. It is not just about feeling good about our national carrier—in times of trouble our national carrier plays a key strategic role. In an international emergency, in a time of war, a national carrier is required to freight resources and people around the country and around the world. Qantas also operates Qantas Defence Services, which conducts work for the RAAF. If Qantas is allowed to wither, who will meet these strategic needs?

    I pay tribute to the 35,000 employees of the Qantas Group. At the forefront of the fight against the strategy of Qantas management have been the Qantas pilots, to whom millions of Australians have literally entrusted their lives. The Australian and International Pilots Association sees Qantas management strategy as a race to the bottom when it comes to service and safety. On 8 November last year, QF32 experienced a serious malfunction with the explosion of an engine on an A380 aircraft. In the wrong hands, that plane could have crashed. But it did not, in large part because the Qantas flight crew had been trained to exemplary world-class standards and knew how to cope with such a terrifying reality. I am deeply concerned that what is being pursued may well cause training levels to fall and that as a result safety standards in the Qantas Group may fall as well. AIPA pilots and the licensed aircraft engineers are not fighting for themselves; they are fighting for the Australian public. That is why I am deeply concerned about any action Qantas management may be considering taking against pilots who speak out in the public interest.

    A lot of claims have been made about the financial state of Qantas international but given the information I have presented tonight, which has come from within the Qantas Group, I believe these claims by management are crying out for further serious forensic investigation. Qantas should not be allowed to face death by a thousand cuts—job cuts, route cuts, quality cuts, engineering cuts, wage cuts. None of this is acceptable and it must all be resisted for the sake of the pilots, the crews, the passengers and ultimately the future of our national carrier.

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