Up to 5000 Qantas workers in the firing line have been given a month’s reprieve after the airline agreed to delay its planned mass sackings, the Australian Services Union says.
Describing the negotiations as “tough”, NSW/ACT secretary Sally McManus said the airline’s agreement to delay the sackings until April 14 will give a “small amount of dignity” to the workforce.
However, she warned the delay was not likely to save jobs long term.
“There’s still a lot of jobs that are probably going to be lost, so you can’t get too excited,” she told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
“All you can say is that this a step forward. There’s a better process in place and we now have to sit down and do the hard work to consider every single job.”
Ms McManus said the negotiations were tough because some in management were negotiating for their own jobs.
“I don’t blame the individual managers we’ve been meeting with, many of them face job losses as well,” she said.
“It’s a very strange situation to be negotiating with people who aren’t going to be there soon.”
Qantas last week was ordered by the Fair Work Commission to consider giving workers and unions more detail about the reasons behind cutting 5000 jobs.
There have been plans to shed almost one third of check-in staff at Sydney international airport with workers set a March 21 deadline to accept redundancy packages.
A decision on which staff could take voluntary redundancy was set to be made in early April but the Australian Services Union argued the process was being rushed.
“That was an unacceptable situation for us as a union, because it would make a mockery of the whole idea of consultation,” Ms McManus said.
She said the union would use the time to put its arguments before Qantas to retain more jobs.
“There will be a lot of water under the bridge between the 21 of March and the 14th of April, and we will have a lot of good arguments to put to Qantas.
“…Qantas wants to turn around its situation, and that means having an airline people want to fly on. We believe you can’t just let go of 5000 workers and achieve that end.”
Comment is being sought from Qantas.