BY MELANIE SJOBERG
Unions claim that Qantas is training management to act as strike-breakers in anticipation of a labour dispute over a new enterprise bargaining agreement.
Secret training operations, which include teaching up to 75 managers baggage handling and cargo ramp operations, have been uncovered in the Philippines. Unions are outraged that this appears to be a repeat of the preliminary phase of the waterfront dispute, when stevedoring company Patrick was discovered training strike-breakers in Dubai.
"The training of a scab labour force in a foreign country is clearly an action to precipitate a dispute", the Transport Workers Union's New South Wales secretary, Tony Sheldon, has claimed.
"The members are rightly concerned about their job security and this announcement has come as a blow. This action is clearly a threat to jobs in the industry and we will be fighting to protect our members."
Sheldon has called for Qantas to end this action and apologise to its workforce.
There are 11 unions involved in the negotiating round for a new agreement; the existing agreement expires on June 30. Unions' demands include a 5-10% pay rise and the scrapping of competitive tendering and outsourcing. The unions are also seeking to end a discriminatory wage provision that gives new employees a lower wage than existing workers.
The Australian Services Union's Victorian president Martin Foley has argued that Qantas can afford to meet union claims because the company reaped more than $220 million in profit last year.