Qantas Negotiation With Ground Staff Halted

12th Aug 2016

A new agreement between Qantas and ground staff is now in doubt as the two sides have reached an impasse. The reason for this is that the Australian airline is reluctant to agree to the ground staff's demand of more full-time work and longer hours.

The negotiations have now been going on for nine months, with no end in sight.

According to the Transport Workers Union, Qantas is forcing its workers below the poverty line. TWU claim that, not only has Qantas refused to offer more than 20 hours of part-time work per week, but has also refused to guarantee that it will increase the number of EBA covered full-time workers.

Qantas, however, has responded that the staff covered by the agreement has always been a part-time workforce. This says Qantas "reflects the peaks and troughs of an airline schedule".

At the moment, Qantas Ground Services employ a total of 1540 workers. This includes baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and push-back of aircraft staff, towers and more. However, the large majority of this number, 1390 are listed as part-time workers. Another 219 are employed as casuals, leaving only 12 staff members employed as full-time staff.

TWU is demanding an increase in part-time hours to 30 per week, whereas Qantas guarantees 20 hours per week. Any hours above 20 are paid as "ordinary" and not "overtime". The union also wants shift extensions to be paid as overtime.

In addition, TWU is also asking a 4 per cent annual salary increase and a 1 per cent increase in superannuation. The union is also pushing for Qantas to agree to a 35 per cent full0time employment by the agreement's expiration.

The Flying Kangaroo has, however, rejected all the demands made by the Transport Workers Union and has put a number of counter claims to the TWU. These weren't received kindly by the union, which said about them that they could further worsen workers conditions.

Despite the setbacks and the halts, the flag carrier of Australia said it is willing to continue talks with the union in "good faith".