Back in early February 2019, Qantas told staff and the world that they had failed to pay a significant number of current and former staff in accordance with the USU/ ASU’s Enterprise Agreements probably since 2013.

Since February, USU/ASU representatives have met with Qantas management on 6 occasions to try and get to the bottom of why this happened and to give our members’ input into some of the issues that have arisen as a result of the rectification process.

What’s clear is that fixing this mess is going to take some time.

What we can tell you is that over 1200 current and former staff that we know of so far are affected by this “mistake” or “bungle” as Qantas self-described this and the amount of money owing to staff is more than the average of $8000 that Qantas confessed up to originally.

That “average” figure downplayed the extent of the underpayment considerably as it was based on base rates only and didn’t take into account unpaid super or overtime or the misclassifications that occurred.

The reality is quite different to the spin unsurprisingly. The bungle is not just confined to the “Loyalty” area either as was first said.

Some gains already
USU/ASU intervention in this process has seen Qantas change a number of their proposals of how to deal with the issues, in particular, we have successfully ensured that:

  • No staff affected the need to sign a contract variation and if you did sign a variation you will not be held to it (this is important as it means there is no barrier to pursuing the pay and conditions you are entitled to under the enterprise agreement);
  • Affected staff will be able to see a position description of their work on the Work Day System so they can understand the reason for their classification and the methodology for this;
  • A negotiation is occurring about on-call payments/overtime for staff in corporate comms, social media, events and marketing.

We have also been looking closely at the rates of pay and “market” rate amount and where affected staff are put in the Senior Professional Group band of the agreement. There are a lot of issues with this but to properly address this we need to consult further with members to ensure the best deal is achieved.

We can also report that a number of people have questioned their new classification level and 80% of those who sought a review have been classified at a higher level than Qantas told them they were. If you think this is the case for you – it is worth doing something about it – talk to your local union rep about what to do.

There are also a number of positions that Qantas management still maintain are outside the USU/ASU enterprise agreement. We are not convinced this is the case at all and a review of around 90 jobs is also underway.

Transparency makes a difference
One of the significant problems for many staff is that they are “banned” from talking about their salary with their co-workers so comparing rates is difficult.

You have to ask yourself who gains from secrecy on pay rates – particularly for people doing the same job. Why shouldn’t Qantas publish all the rates for all jobs so you can see what a job pays?

If there are differences why shouldn’t management justify these rather than hiding behind a cloak of secrecy. Experience so far shows that secrecy hides mistakes and behaviour which under the light of day cannot be justified like gender pay gap issues.

At the moment Qantas management are refusing to shine a light on what is going on because they benefit from failing to disclose rates. So why would they change unless we work together to make them. If you think you might be affected contact your local USU/ASU rep too.

What next?
The USU/ASU is still trying to get our explanation for why this systematic failure to pay people under our USU/ASU agreements occurred.

We also continue to work with our members to wade through the issues this epic Qantas failure has created. If you are affected by this and have questions or concerns make sure to talk to your local USU/ASU organiser and reps.

This also raises a number of concerns for those unaffected by these issues – in particular all of those affected by the bungle will continue to get bonuses while those who have been correctly paid on EBA 11 will not.

We want to see everyone get the bonuses they earned from Qantas’ record profit – that seems only fair – if only Qantas management saw it that way.

If you have any questions about this email or need any help at work, please contact your USU Organiser Thomas Russell on 0419 761 320 or via email at