“We’re well within our rights”: Qantas declines talks with ACTU over controversial bonus scheme

Qantas has dismissed the opportunity to appear at a conciliation conference with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) over what has been labelled a “sham” bonus scheme for employees.

Last month, the ACTU revealed it was launching legal action against Qantas over the bonus scheme, which was announced by CEO Alan Joyce in the company’s FY18 results for up to 27,000 of its non-executive employees.

The bonus is made up of a $500 staff travel credit and a cash component of $2,000 for full-time employees and $1,500 for part-time employees.

While the $500 credit was available to employees immediately, Qantas has withheld the cash component of the bonus for all non-management staff until they sign onto a new company-endorsed employment agreement.

The ACTU is challenging Qantas’ decision via the Fair Work Commission on the grounds that its “sham” bonus scheme discriminates against workers covered by agreements, while delivering the bonus immediately to managers.

A spokesperson for the trade unions’ peak body confirmed to Travel Weekly that Qantas would not be attending a conciliation conference to try and resolve the dispute.

“We are now deciding if we will pursue it further,” the spokesperson said.

In a statement to Travel Weekly, a Qantas spokesperson said the airline has “consistently told the ACTU and unions for the past year that these discretionary bonuses are in addition to what employees are entitled to under their enterprise agreements, and there are conditions attached”.

“Of course, we understand that people would prefer to receive their bonuses straight away, but the condition that it’s linked to signing a new [enterprise bargaining agreement] isn’t new and it’s the same thing we’ve done for the past four years we have awarded discretionary bonuses.

“It’s something we’re well within our rights to do.”

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