Qantas

Refugee activists are stepping up pressure on Qantas to halt its participation in the deportation of refugees from Australia, hoping this will help increase pressure on other airlines to follow suit.

Protests are planned outside Qantas offices in Sydney and Melbourne and a campaign has been launched to petition Qantas and 11 other airlines not to let the Australian government use their aircraft, pilots or crew to deport a Tamil family back to danger in Sri Lanka.

Jasmine Pilbrow faced court on April 7 after she stood up for a refugee who was being deported on her Qantas flight.

"Qantas in crisis: 1000 jobs to go; Warning of $300 million loss; [federal transport minister Warren] Truss rules out aid," was the dramatic headline on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald on December 5.

The deep problems ailing Australia's national airline pose a clear choice between two options: allow the airline to battle on in the chaos of the international airline wars, or re-nationalise Qantas as a key part of a socially progressive and environmentally sustainable public transport policy.

Qantas has announced the closure of its maintenance base for Boeing 747 aircraft at Avalon airport in Victoria. About 300 workers are to be sacked, most of them from the local town of Geelong.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association has questioned company claims that the jobs will be transferred to the more efficient Brisbane maintenance base, suggesting that a shortage of skilled workers in Brisbane will mean the maintenance is mainly done offshore in south-east Asia.

These job losses add to a long string of bad news for employment in Geelong.

After unilaterally locking out the Qantas workforce in October, grounding the fleet and leaving workers and travellers stranded, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been handed a positive outcome by the federal government’s Fair Work Australia (FWA).

Joyce’s lockout resulted on October 30 in FWA terminating the legal, protected industrial action that Qantas unions had voted for, rewarding Joyce’s industrial sabotage.

The decision by Qantas management to ground the airline's fleet and look out its workforce has caused uproar around the country. However, the mainstream media have overwhelmingly focused on the position and arguments publicly put by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Occupy Sydney activists organised a protest outside the Qantas shareholders conference on October 28 at the University of New South Wales in support of Qantas workers struggling for decent wages and job security.

Peter Somerville, the general manager of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, which is embroiled in a battle with Qantas management over job outsourcing and a new enterprise agreement, had addressed Occupy Sydney’s rally in Martin Place on October 22.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is in line for a salary increase of 71% at the airline’s upcoming annual general meeting, but Qantas staff continue to battle the company for job security and decent pay.

The proposed increase will bring Joyce's annual salary package to $5 million.

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