Qantas staff face an agonizing wait of “a few months” to find out if they will be among 6,000 to be made redundant, Australian Aviation can reveal.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said that the delay was due to prioritizing voluntary redundancies over compulsory ones.
He also defended taking the decision to cut almost 20 per cent of his workforce before the government has decided whether or not to extend its Job-keeper scheme, saying it was done to give staff “certainty”.
Just half an hour earlier, the business unveiled its dramatic post-pandemic recovery plan, which also involved continuing to stand down 15,000 people and grounding 100 aircraft for 12 months.
On the subject of job losses, Joyce said he would only begin picking people to be made redundant after a voluntary scheme had been “exhausted” but admitted the process would take months, given the scale of the changes.
“The restructuring of the business will cost a billion,” Joyce said. “We could have delayed doing that but we didn’t think that was in the interest in our people. Giving them certainty was key.”
Of those job losses, 1,450 will be non-operational and mainly corporate; 1,500 from ground operations; 1,050 in cabin crew (with a further 6,900 on stand down); 630 in engineering; and 220 among pilots.
The business then hopes to return staffing levels to 21,000 active people by June 2022, though much of that will depend on international border restrictions easing.
Joyce added that he’s formally asked Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to extend the Jobkeeper scheme for aviation, which has given his airline $400 million to pass onto its employees.
The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.
The companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.
However, the JobKeeper payments are substantially higher than the default ‘JobSeeker’ payments given to those completely out of work, leading to many questioning why Qantas made the decision ‘early’.
Joyce, however, rebuffed those concerns by adding that the job losses were going to “jobs we don’t see coming back for a very long time”.
Previously, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised the scheme will be reviewed at the end of June, and also hinted it could be extended to more vulnerable industries.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine called on Qantas to pause its redundancies until there was certainty over the JobKeeper situation.
“The Qantas CEO is very good at walking the halls of Canberra when it suits his agenda, yet he is quick to cut jobs and hang workers out to dry,” Kaine said.
Qantas’ proposals to substantially shrink the business will rank among the most dramatic in the airline’s 100-year history.
As part of the measures announced, Qantas said:
- A total of 6,000 of 29,000 staff would be made redundant;
- Joyce will continue in his role until at least the end of FY2023
- The group’s six remaining 747s will be retired immediately, six months ahead of schedule;
- It would defer deliveries of A321neo and 787-9;
- It planned to generate up to $1.9 billion from equity raising; and
- There is “significant uncertainty” as to when flying levels will support the return of the A380.