Bosswatch: Fair Work rewards Qantas, MSS Security faces huge strikes


FWA rules Qantas can outsource jobs

Fair Work Australia (FWA) rewarded Qantas CEO Alan Joyce for his October grounding of the airline's fleet and lockout of the workforce, announcing on August 8 that it would place no restrictions on it outsourcing jobs.

Joyce responded by announcing on the same day that the airline will axe 2800 jobs — or more than 10% of its workforce — during its “transformation plan”.

The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) had sought to limit Qantas's use of low-cost contractors to replace unionised workers, and to ensure contractors were employed under the same conditions as Qantas employees.

In mindboggling logic, FWA determined that no outsourcing limits were needed, because the union had not shown that outsourcing would result in unfairness.

The Qantas ruling by the ALP-introduced FWA was hailed by the Coalition. Industrial relations spokesperson Eric Abetz said the ruling sets an important precedent, saying, “it does reassure me to a large extent that in this particular area, the Fair Work Act may not need any changes”.

Joyce said the job cuts were necessary for the “massive transition” to make Qantas “stronger and better”.

The “stronger and better” Qantas will have less maintenance, engineering and catering staff, less frequent engineering checks on aircraft, and no restrictions on outsourcing its work to low-paid contractors.

Guards strike for equal treatment

The United Voice union said the action by MSS Security guards over August 7-9 was “the biggest security strike in Australian history”.

Workers held rolling 12-hour stoppages at offices including the Reserve Bank, the US Consulate and the Australian Tax Office, as the latest action in a dispute that has lasted more than a year.

Like the recent Coles dispute, where a section of workers received worse conditions for the same job, guards at MSS Security are paid almost $3000 a year less than other guards doing similar work, United Voice Victorian assistant secretary Ben Redford said.

Redford said MSS Security were refusing to agree to a new pay deal that Victoria's three other main security companies had agreed to, leaving guards "dangerously close to the poverty line".