Qantas update

We know you’re worried

These are unprecedented times and things are changing so quickly. Unfortunately this is not business as usual. But we want to make sure that you know we will be by your side every step of the way.

Qantas Group announced the following changes to schedules, to be phased in from the end of March 2020 onwards:

  • Qantas International will stop flying from the end of March, but there may be some ad hoc flying dependent on government directives;
  • JQ International will stop flying until at least the end of May 2020;
  • Domestic flight schedules across the Group are being reduced to 40% from 29 March until at least the end of May 2020
  • JQ Domestic will see biggest impact with a reduction of 70% of flying.

This means that there is no useful work for a significant number of employees.

Stand Downs

Qantas Group has announced that they are going to commence the stand down of employees across the Group, which is a provision available under the Fair Work Act 2019. This provides for stand down without pay and means that staff remain employed but not required to attend work. Employees who are not stood down will be required to do their normal duties.

This is very serious – stand down is normally without pay. The ACTU’s advice is that unpaid stand downs are permitted once all other options have been exhausted. However, Qantas has indicated that they will allow access to all types of accrued leave and also allow negative annual leave balances of up to four weeks to be available in some circumstances which we are clarifying. Importantly, continuity of service is maintained and employment is maintained.

We are trying to maximise the ability for people to continue working, including deploying workers to assist with the increased volume of calls in the Hobart call centre.

We believe there are many options for employees on Stand Downs and we are trying to achieve as much flexibility as possible, but these are difficult times. The various options we are discussing with Qantas for employees on Stand Downs are as follows:

  • Access accrued leave (including annual leave, long service leave, DILs, TOIL & RDOs)
  • Early access to long service leave
  • Voluntary leave
  • Temporary flexible work arrangements
  • Leave at half pay or quarter pay
  • Temporary job share
  • Leave without pay without exhausting entitlements first
  • Fair distribution of available hours of work
  • Access to negative leave balance

Qantas have advised that Stand Down notices will be issued next week, commencing 29 March and will continue until at least 29 May 2020.

Stand Downs are going to have different effects in different areas. We understand every area in each of the Qantas Group brands will be affected in some way, i.e. Qantas, Jetstar, Qantas Link, and it will impact all areas including Airports, Freight, Qantas Link, Jetstar, Corporate etc.

We do not have a clear picture what the exact effect is by location, we are urgently seeking this information from Management. We do know that this will be significant across all areas.

What are we doing?

The USU/ASU is urgently discussing every available option to keep jobs safe through this crisis. We received a briefing from Qantas late yesterday (18 March), and will have a further detailed briefing with the company and delegates from across the country from all Qantas companies this afternoon (19 March). Plus we are meeting with the ACTU and other unions today to discuss this situation and next steps to protect jobs.

We are working hard to ensure your jobs are protected, and that you have access to income and that this is done with the most transparent and fair processes possible in this difficult time. It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that the Qantas Group companies come through this difficult period.

This crisis will pass, and the aviation industry will rebound. They will require skilled and dedicated employees to help them recover quickly.  Qantas Group and all aviation companies must commit to protecting their employees to ensure their own future.

We will continue to keep you up to date as our discussions with Qantas Group continue, and will keep you totally and completely informed at all stages.

In the meantime, if you are in need of individual assistance or have further questions please contact your union organiser Thomas Russell 0419 761 320 or your delegate.