The Qantas Group is making COVID-19 jabs mandatory for all staff, setting a November deadline for its frontliners to be fully vaccinated.
Cabin crew pilots and airport workers for both Qantas and Jetstar will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November and all other employees by 31 Mach 2022 with “very rare” exceptions.
A survey carried out by the airline found that three-quarters of its employees think vaccines should be compulsory for the entire company and would be concerned if their colleagues weren’t vaccinated.
Of the 12,000 Qantas Group employees who answered the survey, 89 per cent were already vaccinated or planned to be.
Only four per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has called the move a PR stunt and said Qantas needed to meet with workers and unions to ensure its employees will not risk losing their jobs or any pay.
“This snap announcement is completely void of a plan to support workers to get vaccinated by November,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.
“Workers have spoken out about the difficulties they’ve faced accessing the vaccine, but Qantas has refused to listen.
“Qantas’ own survey shows vaccine hesitancy is extremely low, yet Qantas has pushed ahead with another unilateral decision that will heap unnecessary stress onto workers.”
A separate survey of 800 aviation workers showed only one third have been fully vaccinated, with many flagging difficulties getting access to the vaccine and in organising vaccination ahead of roster changes with the potential of losing work.
Thousands of aviation workers across New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand are required to be vaccinated, and multiple airlines around the world have also made it a requirement.
“It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures, and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees, that means getting back to work again,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
“Since vaccines became available, we’ve strongly encouraged all of our people to get the jab and are offering paid time off to get it done.
“We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers.”
Two weeks ago, the national carrier announced that 2,500 frontline workers from Qantas and Jetstar would be stood down for around two months in response to the ongoing outbreaks across Australia.
The stand-downs were announced just after Qantas lost its Federal Court battle against the TWU over its decision to outsource its ground-handling crew.
According to the TWU, the airline used the global pandemic as an opportunity to sack around 2,000 employees to prevent them from exercising their rights to bargain for better wages and conditions.
Qantas revealed in June it would provide “rewards” to vaccinated customers in the form of Frequent Flyer points and status upgrades plus the opportunity to win unlimited free flights for a family of four for an entire year.
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