The High Court has rejected an application by Qantas workers and their unions to hear an appeal of a case about how the airline used the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.
Unions had accused Qantas of ripping off employees who worked public holidays, weekends and overtime during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
It claimed the airline manipulated rosters and paid workers no more than the basic JobKeeper wage despite working shifts that would normally attract penalty rates.
In September, the Federal Court agreed with unions that the airline should pay its workers extra.
But Qantas appealed that decision and, in December, the full Federal Court ruled in the airline’s favour, finding Qantas no longer had to backpay hundreds of workers.
However, in January 2021, the unions took their fight to the High Court applying for special leave to appeal to the Federal Court decision.
But the High Court on Friday turned down that application, leaving no further avenues for appeal.
“Today’s High Court decision is extremely disappointing for thousands of Qantas workers who are owed significant amounts of unpaid wages by the airline,” said Emeline Gaske, the assistant secretary of the Australian Services Union, which represents many of the affected staff.