Qantas to Compensate Airport Staff for Underpaying Them for 6 Years

6th Jan 2017

Qantas will have to pay five of its Adelaide Airport customer service officers for the period between April 2007 and July 2013. According to the court the customer service officers - Rebecca Ardlie, April Burdett, Martin Edkins, Edward Lenhart and Mathew Hastwel - were underpaid by Qantas in said period.

According to the court, these five were required to supervise 110 people, create and adjust rosters for the day and provide detailed feedback to the duty manager.

The court agreed with the claimants, who said that Qantas misunderstood the "real jobs" they were supposed to do.

In its judgment, the court said:

"The customer service officers are required to wear a different uniform ... and are readily identifiable to customers by the 'supervisor' badges they are required to wear. The customers services team at Adelaide included work areas known as check-in, departures, baggage services, ticketing, sales and lounges."

Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke also pointed out that it was clear that the customer service agents were of higher rank than customer service agents and added:

"Unlike customer service agents, they are authorized to approve accommodation, meal vouchers, transport, ongoing travel and issue boarding documents of customers affected by flight delays."

The court decided that the five officers, who Qantas classified as "first-level team leaders" were required to do a lot more than the position required. According to Mr Lieschke, their role was at least two levels higher than what they were being paid until July 2013.

Mr Lieschke said:

"They were required to supervise and co-ordinate a large number of subordinates with all the inherent complexities of a large work group. I conclude that each applicant has been underpaid the precise sum of the difference between the relevant level 5 and 7 salaries and entitlements for six years."

Qantas, however, denied the position should have come with a higher pay and said the claimants did not have to show higher levels of knowledge, problem solving and accountability.

Mr Lieschke said:

"(Qantas) submitted that the title of 'supervisor' did not elevate their role to a level of supervision where they were accountable for any of the performance of the customer service agents."

A later hearing will determine how much Qantas will have to back pay to each of the five staff members.