'Alan Joyce must resign': The union representing Qantas workers has demanded the airline's CEO stand down after cutting 8,500 jobs

The Transport Workers Union has called for Alan Joyce’s resignation over the latest wave of layoffs.(David Gray, Getty Images)
  • The Transport Workers Union has demanded CEO Alan Joyce resign on Tuesday.
  • The demand came just an hour after Qantas had announced it would cut another 2,500 ground staff jobs on top of the existing 6,000 redundancies it unveiled two weeks ago.
  • “Qantas has taken millions in JobKeeper wage subsidies, more than any other company, with the express intent of keeping people employed,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said. “But now Alan Joyce wants to destroy thousands more livelihoods. This is callous abuse of public money. The chief executive must resign.”
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The relationship between the national airline and its workers appears to have reached a new low as more jobs look set for the chopping block.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) representing Qantas workers has called for CEO Alan Joyce’s resignation if the company proceeds laying off thousands of more staff.

“If Alan Joyce’s only plan is two wield the axe on thousands of loyal staff, he should resign. This is not shrewd management, it is economic violence,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement to Business Insider Australia.

The explosive demand came just one hour after Qantas announced it would outsource the airline’s ground staff, baggage handling and cleaning jobs, cutting up to 2,500 more staff on top of the 6,000 redundancies announced earlier this month.

Qantas expects the latest cuts would save $100 million a year in operating costs.

Kaine and the union, however, maintain the move doesn’t square with the money the national carrier has received from the federal government’s JobKeeper program.

“Qantas has taken millions in JobKeeper wage subsidies, more than any other company, with the express intent of keeping people employed. But now Alan Joyce wants to destroy thousands [of] more livelihoods,” Kaine said.

“This is callous abuse of public money. The chief executive must resign. We are calling on the Prime Minister to intervene and call Qantas to account over its misuse of taxpayers’ money.”

It’s an extraordinary escalation as pressure mounts on Qantas management. Just last week Qantas revealed it had lost $2 billion over the last financial year as the global pandemic largely grounds international and domestic flights.

Qantas dismissed the calls for Joyce’s resignation and hit back at the TWU’s claims. A spokesperson told Business Insider Australia that while the airline had accepted $267 million in JobKeeper payments, it had distributed the payments fairly.

“Most of this went directly to our people who are stood down without work. The balance of that $267 million was used as a wage subsidy for those still working,” senior corporate communications manager Stephen Moynihan said.

The TWU’s frustration was echoed by the Australia Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). While she didn’t call directly for Joyce’s resignation, O’Neil said it was a “shocking double standard” that the CEO could resume receiving his multi-million dollar salary but “can’t find money to pay the workers who build his wealth”.

She reserved her ire however for the federal government, which she claimed has stood idly by while the aviation sector struggled.

“How can it be that Qantas has received half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ support through measures like the JobKeeper subsidies without the Government putting conditions on workers continuing to be directly employed?” O’Neil said.

“The federal government has refused time and time again to put in place a comprehensive aviation industry support plan and extend JobKeeper to all aviation worker.”

Having refused to support Virgin Australia which collapsed into administration earlier this year, O’Neil said the Morrison government had done nothing to stop 11,500 jobs from disappearing.

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