The explanation by the Qantas engineer’s union why the “peace” talks with the airline has been pushed back to Wednesday from Monday is bulldust. They aren’t having trouble getting delegates to the meeting as claimed. They have backed off to give Qantas time to replace Geoff Dixon as CEO so that the person who has to begin the repairs in employee relations at the airline will be the one they negotiate with.

There are signs that Geoff Dixon’s time at CEO of Qantas may end very soon, rather than some time between September and next February as widely anticipated in and outside the brand. They include last week’s breaching of the share price to below $3 in trading — late and dirty jets and passenger revolts in terminals mightn’t make a board of directors flinch — but a plummeting share price is guaranteed to get attention. This morning they include the postponement of the “peace” talks initiated by Qantas last week, (just after the $3 line was broken) from today until Wednesday over the overtime bans that have disrupted its schedules, and cash flow. The explanation from the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association that the delay was to allow all delegates to attend is implausible. Their bans may be hurting, but not so badly everyone couldn’t have made it by today, even by flying on those horrid Virgin Blue or Tiger or Jetstar flights. Could it be that the rude mechanics have agreed to the postponement in order for the negotiations to be attended by the new CEO whose job is to fix the mess, not the one that is seen as an obstacle to any resolution? Or have they fallen for a ruse allowing Qantas to cobble together something resembling a permanent alternative work force to replace them? Answers soon. In the meantime, perhaps just a coincidence caused by overwork, Dixon has been replaced as a keynote speaker at the end of July Australian Pacific Aviation Outlook Summit being held in Sydney by the CEO of Virgin Blue, Brett Godfrey.

An Age manager was recently “frog marched” out of Crown Casino — “one bouncer on each arm” according to Age advertising sources — following a drunken and aggressive display at an Age function. Age advertising clients and Age employees were amazed. No disciplinary action taken. Crown has video tape.

You may be interested in proceedings at the AIRC today. An unfair dismissal case involving a long-serving (14 years) employee versus News Ltd is scheduled for Monday 30 June 2008. Commissioner Roberts — Wallace v Nationwide News Ltd in Sydney.

Myer is clearly making its profits by cutting back on staff. Went to Myer Melbourne on Sunday 29 June at 3pm in middle of stocktake sale. When I complained to a staff member after waiting for ages for service she told me there were three rostered staff on all day for half a floor (small electrical) and encouraged me to complain “as they never listen to us”. I later saw a manager and complained to him. He quickly admitted that staff hours were low but blamed the renovation. He did however encourage me to complain in writing. So I thought that given the company is so keen on trashing its brand for a short term return they wouldn’t mind me sharing my experience with Crikey. As a former staff member I can tell when corners are being cut and the evidence was everywhere. Given the iconic nature of the store I found it very sad. It’s easy to make quick bucks in retail by cutting staff but as walked through the store I overheard three other customers complaining about lack of service. They may have lined up to make a purchase but will they ever be back?

Even India has started giving incentives to electric cars. The same car Reva was imported by a few Australians and the transport authorities here fail to register them on grounds of safety, whereas a few European countries have started importing them. How long do we have to wait before we can get an electric car in Australia?

Did you know that we still have tipstaffs working in courts around Australia who have no industrial rights at all? Who are treated as slaves by their often very peculiar judge masters? Commanded to do some very odd things? These tipstaffs must work overtime without pay, must do anything their judges direct them to and must live without such things as holiday pay, sick pay and career prospects. How come Julia Gillard has not yet attacked this antiquated relic from the bench? And why do lawyers wonder why their name stinks so badly in the Australian community when they treat their fellow workers like sh-t?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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