The emails and messages keep coming from within Qantas about the level
of preparation underway for a possible dispute with airline staff in
December.
Yesterday it was a message about the rushed and odd training hours of a
new long haul flight attendant on a three month contract (see below).
Earlier in the week it was more about the preparations for the London
base for long haul international staff, which could very well be the
catalyst for the dispute when the operation starts at the end of the
year.

Then there’s the switching of cabin crew domestically and
internationally, the training of 700 “strike breakers” arranged by
senior Qantas executive, Lesley Grant.

And overnight more complaints with one staffer saying that it’s not
only the flight crew that are outraged at how the company is treating
them, it’s all staff right across Australia in every area:

“From Catering, Reservations, Freight, Load control,
Check-in Staff at Domestic and International airports, IT, Engineering
and Maintenance, Holidays, Qantas Business travel, and more.

“All staff everywhere are getting ready for a battle, Qantas Executives
have forgotten about the people that really put bums on seats, the
front line workers right across Qantas at every airport and office and
department.

“We are not happy with Geoff, Margaret, the board and the Senior Executives.”

And another says he (Geoff Dixon) has the gall to tell staff that 3% is all Qantas can afford as a pay increase:

“His pay packet could be going up by 100% in one year, how hypocritical is that?

“He is the highest paid CEO of any airline in the World, 3% is under
CPI, yet he, the board and Executive Managers believe that they deserve
more for delivering a balanced score card.

“Staff have given up a lot over the last few years to help Qantas
through some troubled times. No shares last year, $1,000 bonus (less
tax) and they now tell us (that) staff allocation of shares has been
suspended because of accounting/financial issues/problems, yet they can
allocate it to themselves (no problem there) and now they want this
astronomical request.

Well the board and Managers better get ready for a staff lash back We are not happy and they will know this very soon.”

This correspondent is referring to the Qantas Notice of Meeting for the
AGM which will be asked to approve the issue of 450,000 shares over
three years to Geoff Dixon, plus the same number of performance rights,
and the issue of 270,000 shares and the same number of performance
rights to the airline’s chief financial officer, Peter Gregg.

Dixon and Gregg received ‘equity benefits’ according to the airline’s
annual report in the year to June totalling just over $946,000 for
Dixon and more than $532,000 for Gregg.

This is the second complaint from within the ranks of Qantas staff
about the failure to pay a bonus in Qantas shares, with the airline
citing accounting or financial issues.

These have not been specified by the company. presumably it might have
something to do with the costing of option or share issues to staff and
the fact that the cash bonus is a more tax effective, or less costly
way of doing it.

Or perhaps the board is reluctant to give staff any more shares that
they might be tempted to use to embarrass the board at the annual
meeting.

In any case there is a an unhealthy level of resentment building inside
Qantas and its one the airline’s board and senior management would do
well to meet head on and sort out, rather than continue to grandstand
about big, nasty and unfair foreign competitors and the like.

And it remains odd that none of the mainstream media has done any
digging inside Qantas to look at the preparations for this possible
dispute. The only stories have been based on what the media has been
told by the various unions.

September 22 – The new Qantas long haul cabin crew

As Qantas and Air New Zealand sidle off into an unofficial defacto
relationship of some uncertain strength, the mangy Roo’s attention is
turning to Asia and its Singapore based version of Jetstar that will be
starting soon.

That, rather than links to Singapore will remain the focus for CEO
Geoff Dixon, who at the time of the British Airways sale a fortnight
ago chided reporters for making “too much” of any links with
Singapore. Singapore is a convenience ploy for Geoff Dixon and
his board to play to divert attention from what they are really
planning.

And judging by the leaks, emails and other comments from inside and
around Qantas, there is growing uncertainty about what will happen
later this year domestically, and internationally when the London base
for international long haul cabin crew is supposed to start.

The latest comment below shows that Qantas is playing hardball with
attendants and prepared to take risks in preparing for that staff brawl
in December. The correspondent says they talked to a “young girl last night (this
was received two days ago) who starts training as a long haul flight
attendant on the 27/9/04. She is on a three month contract
starting 11/12/04, which is the week prior to the current long haul
flight attendant enterprise bargain expiry. Once her three month
contract is finished she will be back out there having to look for a
new job.

Her training, which is usually seven weeks for new
recruits, will run for 12 nights. She starts every night at 7pm through
to 7am.

When she questioned the odd hours of the training course she was told
“well, we need to see how you handle the shift work”. Strange, I would
have thought daylight hours a more optimum learning time for things
like fire fighting on board an aircraft, management of medical
emergencies, killing hijackers and the all important emergency
evacuation procedures.

Don’t forget Qantas flight attendants have had a couple of those to
contend with in the last couple of years. Do Qantas customers, in times
of heightened security, want flight attendants who were trained through
a sleepy fog?

This new recruit has also been told there is a chance she will do NO
flying over the course of the three month contract and will be sitting
at home on minimum wage. But try telling a young girl who has always
wanted to be a flight attendant that working under these conditions
might not be such a great career move. It’s obvious Qantas management
are arming themselves for an all out civil war over Christmas/New Year
and corporate greed is blinding them to the fact that
treating young workers so awfully is not in keeping with “the Spirit Of
Australia”.

And a reminder, this is what was published in Monday’s sealed section:

We’ve been reporting the preparations At Qantas for a possible brawl
with its flight attendants in December when the London-based
international crewing operation is due to start. This is what we
published last week:

The airline is going into defensive mode. With the proposed
London base (49 have signed up for 480 slots) and the expected
industrial troubles with the international cabin crew at Christmas, the
‘black widow’ (otherwise known as Lesley Grant GM customer service) has
moved domestic crew to all regional flying on Airbus A330-300 and
Boeing 767 (Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo) from October onwards. At the
same time she offers leave without pay to international crew. In
addition she has trained 700 strike breakers on fixed term contracts
(in addition to office staff) for 10 months.

More information has now emerged about the argument between the
airline, the Flight Attendants Association and Long Haul cabin crew.

Effective October 4, all Airbus A300 300 flights will be crewed by
Short Haul (cabin crew). No changes to Boeing 767 crews have been
announced, but with Airbus replacing 767s upon delivery there is
probably no need for Qantas to do anything. It will happen naturally.

Award conditions already exist for Overseas Bases, The FAAA however,
has concerns over the new proposed conditions for a 2 year base in
London, such as, requirement to work additional hours for no pay which
Qantas calls roster efficiencies. Then there’s a requirement to take
leave without pay from Qantas and be contracted to another company,
Qantas Cabin Crew UK Ltd.

Qantas will cease contributions to superannuation. Long Service Leave
will not accumulate. To be fair no Flight Attendants are forced to go,
it is voluntary, [so far] hence the low volume of applications less
than 100. However, the real issue not made known in the media, as you
have pointed out, is the fact that Qantas wants no cap on number of
Flight Attendants employed overseas and plans to phase in British
attendants in increasing numbers to replace Australians over the 2 year
period.

The announced 480 positions won’t be sufficient anyway and the recently
employed Australians on 11 month contracts would not be required after
that time.

Peter Fray

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