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Nov 10, 2004

Qantas

Is Qantas really more than 'just a seat' as the company advertising campaign continually tells us at the moment? And, if it is, where are those seats being filled at the moment?

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Is Qantas really more than ‘just a seat’ as the company advertising campaign continually tells us at the moment? And, if it is, where are those seats being filled at the moment?

It seems Geoff Dixon, the $6 million man, and his management team have very sneakily and very quietly introduced a form of offshore outsourcing. India would be too inflammatory, so what about some cheap sheep?

We hear from Qantas staff that Qantas in Auckland are handling Australian passengers who call Qantas from Australia.

The calls are diverted to Auckland, and the staff in Australia are sitting waiting for calls to drop in, and the staff in NZ are holding calls
for over seven minutes. So what’s going on? Someone has to be accountable for doing this devious thing and giving away Australian jobs.

Staff are asking what’s happening, but the usual collection of bonus-collecting managers have not replied. Is this some sort of ploy to lower staff numbers in Qantas’ Australian call centres?

That Qantas would do this so close after concluding the controversial deal on a London foreign base for long haul cabin crew, is verging on the inflammatory.

Especially as that deal was part of the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that has not gone down well among staff. As it is being explained there is an increasing feeling of unhappiness among staff.

And I cannot understand how Australian staff think they are going to survive in London on lower wages. If Qantas has an $18 million saving from the agreement, then that saving has got to come from somewhere. A lot of it will be travel costs, but a significant amount will be the allowances and other amounts paid to staff working out of Australia on long haul flights.

The other interesting thing about the Auckland call centre is that the second foreign crew base (after Bangkok) is based there in a building in Queen Street, Auckland. It is run by the international labour hire firm, Adecco.

Is this Auckland call centre an Adecco- Qantas invention, staffed by contractors and not Qantas employees? And is it being run in tandem with the foreign crew base?

Meanwhile Qantas IS more than a seat for one friend of Crikey. This friend is a big time heavy duty traveller, averaging one and a bit flights to Melbourne a week at the moment (and to Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin in the past six weeks, not to mention Canberra and Adelaide.)

To this friend it’s also big shiny planes, terminals, plastic food and slightly surly and disgruntled staff, not to mention a growing number of business passengers who fell used and abused.

Take a friend of Crikey, a Platinum member of the Qantas Club and half way to qualifying for another year at this level, after only three and a bit months. This friend cops a letter from Qantas advising that their Platinum membership is being reviewed.

For upgrade, to where this friend thought. Nope, they were going to downgrade her. A call to Qantas elicited an embarrassing background, profuse apologies and the line, “You shouldn’t have got that letter” But no explanation as to how or why it was sent to a member of such good standing.

Yes, Qantas is more than just a seat!

But with the prospects of a Christmas replay of the 1998 Docks dispute over the Qantas EBA(and with Qantas hiring several hundred strike breakers), I’m a little disappointed.

You see I’d always be served coffee by an Alsatian on short leash, wearing a Qantas attendant’s gear on a City Flyer dash to Melbourne.
Or a nice Shiraz on a longer flight to Perth or Los Angeles by a nice, well dressed Doberman.

Of course their trainers, sorry supervisors would have been wearing face masks or balaclavas and dressed in ‘Darlo’ black. No name tags or numbers.

But that particular dream courtesy of Chris Corrigan at Patrick and Virgin Blue, is no more.

But there is a great deal of unhappiness, as this email shows:

Consultation meetings have been taking place though out Qantas ASU ranks.

Meetings are not yet over, they finish next week. But so far the strong feeling is that staff are very disappointed at what has been offered to them in the latest rounds of EBA.

Considering that they have in principle achieved an agreement with the FAAA, which is very nice thank you very much. Other staff who are trying to secure a better deal in the EBA, feel totally neglected and forgotten.

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