Qantas has called off a program asking its head office workers to volunteer during the festive season after unions accused them of “wage theft” and “grinch behaviour”.
The request, which was emailed out to staff members, asked their Campus-based employees to “lend a hand to the front line in December and January,” the email states, according to SMH.
“We require volunteers to assist at the self-service check-ins and auto bag drop area, bussing gates, concourse arrivals hall and at the transfer desk. The roles allocated to volunteers will depend on their preferences, skillset and security requirements.”
The Australian Services Union’s NSW branch secretary Natalie Lang called on the airline to withdraw the request and instead roster on additional staff.
Lang said the request for volunteers amounted to “wage theft” and was a “classic Grinch tale”.
“This is the period where it is so busy that Qantas actually jacks up its prices and price gouges people travelling to see loved ones … but yet they expect those people supporting those extra travellers to work for free,” she said.
“They’re robbing everyone at Christmas.”
SMH reported the program will now only include 50 senior managers and executives.
“The intent of our volunteer program has always been for head office employees to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and spend more time with our customers and airport teams over the busy period,” a Qantas spokesman told SMH.
“We recognise that some of the planned activity this year went further than previous years, so we have made some changes.”
The new plan will see the senior managers and execs handing out bottles of water and treats to passengers.