Qantas Airbuses
Qantas Airways Boeing 737-800 planes sit parked on the runway at Sydney International Airport on July 22, 2020. @David Gray, Getty Images

Union slams Australian airline Qantas for resorting to asking corporate workers to handle luggage.

It’s been reported that in a note to senior executives and managers, Qantas has asked them to join a new contingency program which would see them leave their respective jobs to work as ground handlers up to five days per week for three months.

Chief Operating Officer Colin Hughes said Qantas would also recruit at least 100 new managers to keep up with demand, adding there was “no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position”.

“During your time in the contingency program, you’ll be an embedded resource within the ground handling partners,” Mr Hughes wrote.

“This means you’ll receive a roster, be scheduled to operate and be supervised and managed in the live operations by our grand handling partners.”

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) criticised these developments, referencing in a tweet the 1700 ground-handling workers let go during the Covid-19 pandemic, a decision the Federal Court recently found to be in breach of the Fair Work Act.

Qantas, Chaos and Criticism

The leadership at Qantas, headed by polarising CEO Alan Joyce, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months with a combination of staff shortages, flight delays and controversial decisions keeping the embattled airline in the news long enough to give the most steadfast and upbeat PR staff chronic migraines.

Just last month, we reported for Travel Radar that the criticism levelled at Qantas for offering up to $4 million in bonuses for top executives should business performance targets be met by August 2023.

Alan Joyce Qantas CEO
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has come under increasing criticism for his leadership @AAP/Joel Carrett

The announcement came on the back of only 60 per cent of their flights in May arriving and departing on time, while 7% were cancelled entirely.  Qantas said that a spike in COVID cases among crew members and staff was to blame in response to criticism.


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