Aviation

Qantas proposes scrapping bonuses if it is “harmed”

Qantas told its workers on Friday that they can’t take part in “any action that harms Qantas or a Qantas Group company” or it will scrap its offer of a one-off $5000 bonus.

The bonus is an offer intended to encourage unionised staff to get behind pay deals that would include a two-year wage freeze, followed by a 2 per cent annual pay bump.

However, this falls 3.1 per cent below the headline inflation rate.

Workers who reject the pay deal will not qualify for the $5000 payment.

The unions called for the $5,000 ‘thank you’ payment to be paid to all workers without conditions attached, including the 2,000 workers the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said were illegally sacked by the airline during the pandemic.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine described the payment as “more like a bribe.”

A spokesperson from Qantas said that the airline reject the unions’ claim that this is a bribe and drew attention to this quote from Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

“Today, we’re announcing a one-off payment that goes some of the way to acknowledging the sacrifices our people have made, including long periods of no work and no annual wage increases,” Joyce said.

“It also recognises the great work they are doing as we restart the airline, which has been challenging for everyone.”

An employee Q&A document, reported by The Australian Financial Review, included the message given by Qantas.

“The workgroup covered by the Wage Freeze EA [enterprise agreement] must not have engaged in any action that harms Qantas or any Qantas Group company between the announcement date and the payment date,” the letter said.

In this quote, a ‘workgroup’ refers to an individual cohort of pilots, flight attendants, engineers and other workers covered by the agreement.

Other workgroups will not be affected if one workgroup breaches the condition.

The AFR reported that “harm,” in this context, would cover any serious breach of company policy, including sexual harassment or disregarding safety standards, and taking unprotected industrial action.

If industrial action took place it would be examined by Qantas and the airline would assess whether it warrants a breach of clause.

A Qantas spokesperson told Travel Weekly that: “The harm criterion has been a standard feature of Qantas’ previous discretionary bonuses (including annual results bonuses for non executive employees between FY15-FY18 and the Recovery and Retention Payment announcement in February).”

Nearly 4000 of the 19,000 eligible Qantas staff have already accepted the airline’s pay terms and will receive the bonus.



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