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Oct 31, 2011

The remorseless logic and profound disdain of Alan Joyce

Qantas is prepared to threaten the Australian economy and thus has the government over a barrel. But it's confirming Australians' growing resentment of corporations.


You’re a historic Australian company, but you’re doing it tough. You claim you’re struggling to cope in a highly competitive international market, with subsidised foreign competition, high energy prices and a high Aussie dollar killing you. So you’ve focused on slashing labour costs and gunning for the unions that represent your workers.

But in reality, it’s your management mistakes, and their failure to respond innovatively to challenges like your competitors have, that have been critical to the problems you now face. So you try to force government intervention to help you out of the corner you’ve painted yourself into.

Qantas? No, BlueScope Steel. The ex-BHP steelmaker and owner of the Port Kembla steelworks may not be as iconic as the Flying Kangaroo, but it has traced a similar path of management failure and  antagonism towards its workers in an industry that has faced increasing international competition and been punished by high prices for raw materials and the strong Aussie.

As Ben Sandilands showed in one of several incisive posts over the weekend, the list of failures of Qantas management in recent years has been lengthy. Many of the competitive pressures it is facing have, in effect, been self-inflicted. And like BlueScope under Kirby Adams, it has substituted aggression towards unions for competence and innovation. Alan Joyce’s ploy to force government intervention may not have been as blatant as BlueScope’s constant whingeing about a carbon price and demands for compensation, but it’s had the same successful result.

The key difference is, BlueScope can lay off thousands of workers, cripple a regional economy and send ripple effects of economic damage through Australian industry, but it can’t inflict massive economic damage, threaten entire industries and inconvenience hundreds of thousands of people here and overseas. That’s the power that Joyce wields and he has used it as a blunt instrument to short-circuit perfectly legal industrial action.

Consider what Fair Work Australia — headed by a holdover from the Howard government, Geoffrey Giudice — found last night. Not merely did it find that the unions’ industrial action wouldn’t have caused significant damage to the tourism and air transport industries while Qantas’s grounding would do exactly that, it concluded “what we have heard indicates there are still prospects for a satisfactory negotiated outcome in all three cases. The prospect of a negotiated resolution in relation to the three proposed enterprise agreements still remains”.

In short, Joyce’s argument that the unions’ campaign forced Qantas’s hand has been found to be false by Fair Work Australia. There was the prospect of a negotiated outcome, and the unions’ campaigns were not threatening significant damage either to wider industry or (and this appears to have been missed) to Qantas.

Instead, Joyce has used the threat of economic damage and the political pressure of Australia-wide transport chaos to force the government to intervene to end the dispute and force a resolution.

I called it industrial terrorism on the weekend, a description some readers had a problem with. It’s no moral judgment, simply an accurate description of what Joyce is doing — threatening havoc and spreading fear as a means of achieving political and economic ends. It’s industrial terrorism by definition. And it’s worked.

Some suggest Joyce has failed to anticipate how much the grounding will harm Qantas’s brand. The stories from airports here and overseas, of angry, tearful or disconsolate Qantas passengers desperately searching for alternative flights, are undoubtedly very damaging, particularly for Qantas’s international services. But from Joyce’s point of view, there’s no particular problem with brand damage, because his longer-term strategy is offshoring anyway. Why worry about damaging the airline’s brand if your goal is to run that airline down anyway and replace it with offshore-based airlines?

Criticise Joyce if you like, but there’s a rigorous corporate logic behind his threat to sabotage Australia’s transport system.

Of course, if unions had held the economy to ransom in such a manner, the froth-mouthed fury from the Right would have been overwhelming. Instead, the Right is divided — not over the legitimacy of Joyce’s actions, for which there is strong support (and as well from the business sector, which always cheers anyone taking on unions), but on the appropriate response of the government. First Peter Reith, and today Ian Hanke in the AFR, argued against government intervention. Hanke, a Liberal veteran and IR specialist, went further and gave his party a real serve, blaming its lack of IR direction since 2007.

For Labor, all it can do is get the planes back in the air. Qantas has it over a barrel, knowing no government can afford an extended disruption to aviation services, no matter how outrageous the behaviour of the airline. The government moved quickly to use its own Fair Work Act to shut the dispute down, which was exactly what Qantas wanted. That’s the first step. The longer-term challenge for the government is to resolve the basic tension between what voters want — which is the Qantas of old, a high-quality service staffed and run by Australians — and what the market says they can get.

The brand damage that Qantas will suffer is partly a product of this tension, the result of an expectation that Qantas isn’t just another private airline, but a “national carrier” operating in the national interest. Qantas still likes to exploit this residual sentiment in its advertising, but it’s been a very long time since it did anything in the national interest, which is exactly how its shareholders like it. The resolution may be to explain to voters that in a small, internationally exposed market such as ours, the only path back to the old Qantas lies in economically damaging protectionism or costly government ownership — particularly when management is as inept as Qantas’s has been.

But there’s more to the reaction against Qantas than just nostalgia for the good old days of a government-owned Flying Kangaroo. Joyce’s behaviour — Friday’s absurd 71% pay rise, the blatant disregard for the welfare of Qantas passengers, his ongoing malice toward his workforce — confirms a growing community sentiment about business leaders, which is finding its most pointed expression in the #occupy protests but that is manifested in deep-seated voter unease about high corporate remuneration.

The grounding was one of those moments when the mask of capitalism — or at least the version of capitalism we’ve currently settled for — slips to reveal a profound disdain on the part of large corporations towards the communities they profit from. At a time when there’s growing anger about the divide in wealth and power between the so-called “1%” and the rest of us, it’s a risky decision.


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140 thoughts on “The remorseless logic and profound disdain of Alan Joyce

  1. Jimmy

    Amateur Hour stuff from Joyce, he blew all community support for his side of the dispute by grounding the fleet, especially as it was just days after the 71% pay rise and got the govt off side by not notifying them before hand and grounding the fleet when CHOGM leaders were trying to get home.

  2. Suzanne Blake


    While his timing was poor (should have waited until after Cup), Joyce has a point:

    They have 9 engineers per plane, while Virgin and Jetstar have 2.

    The pilots have great conditions, that are from 20 – 30 years ago.

    Gillard should have called Joyce back on Saturday and not ognored his calls. The BBQ in Kings Park for CHOGM is second in this instance.

    Gillard saying today she was worried about court action against clause 431 is a joke, its HER legislation


    I for one feel safer knowing that there are more qualified engineers inspecting the plane that I am about to spend the next few hours on. If that’s the difference between fiery oblivion or a safe flight, I’m glad for it! Of course, as has been seen over the last two years, nine engineers still isn’t enough for the embattled RB211 engine’s on ageing 747s. Maybe Qantas shouldn’t have off-shored the engine maintenance shop afterall!

  4. Pamela

    As if FLY IN / FLY OUT CEO Joyce cares about Qantas beyond it’s role as his current cash cow.
    When his contract is up and he flies away to decimate another company whilst making big bucks- will he care what happens to Qantas?

    Dick Smith called it EXTREME CAPITALISM- this is what the Occupy Movement is trying to articulate.

  5. jj

    “between what voters want — which is the Qantas of old, a high-quality service staffed and run by Australians — and what the market says they can get.”

    Bernard – I honestly dont think voters want the above – Yes a good reliable frequent domestic service between major cities with access to lounges etc that suits business travellers -but staffed and run by Australians?? – what the heck does that mean? and who really cares.

    And dont start on the worlds safest airline claptrap because virtually everyone will fly almost any airline if the price is right (except Aeroflot perhaps). I have travelled OS regulary for a good period of time and the main reason I dont use QANTAS is because it is too expensive.

    What the market gives us at the moment is choice and by and large for me QANTAS is not a choice I make

  6. SBH

    Absurd indeed but ludicrous was the only way to describe Joyce calling it ‘a pay cut’.

    Like Telstra and the Commonwealth bank before it, there is no longer any reason for Australians to be loyal to QANTAS.

  7. Oscar Jones

    Oh come on everyone knows it was Julia Gillard’s fault and she’s also responsible for the flat tyre my push bike got on Sunday in Centenniel Park.

    Way to go Joyce- the PM is hosting a bunch of world leaders and doesn’t get back to you so make the 70,000 world-wide customers suffer needlessly. No wonder the shareholders (dolts) voted you $5M the previous day. I think they may rue that decision.

    News Corp have gone into overdrive with their attacks on Gillard (like Joyce could not have waited just one day more before creating world-wide havoc)..and the bizarre thing is, this lot at the Australian singing from the same song sheet (except Mumbles who always makes sense) expect us to now pay to read their tosh!.

    Oddly enough, when Ansett went to the wall with many creditors only just getting paid this year, I didn’t hear a squeak from the Tories that it was John Howard’s fault.

  8. gapot

    There are very few areas in the manufacturing sector where Australia has any advantage. The government has in the past tried to pick winners and lavish tax dollars on the chosen few only to see the foreign owned player shut up shop and take their factories to asia. How does the government make these silly subsidies , they look at the margin in that particular seat and work out how much will it cost to buy the votes. Seems strange that QANTAS is not on the list of protected industries seeing as the company gives our boys and girls in Canberra lots of bribes.

  9. Jimmy

    SB – “Gillard should have called Joyce back on Saturday and not ognored his calls” Check your facts on that one SB, Qantas themselves said this morning that no phone calls were made to the PM which makes it a bit hard for her to return them.

    FOPPSOMMS – “I for one feel safer knowing that there are more qualified engineers inspecting the plane that I am about to spend the next few hours on” I second that.

    The real issue here doesn’t appear to be money (one union has agreed on pay already) it is the issue of using Asian labour to replace Australian labour.

  10. John

    Australians haven’t been loyal to Qantas for years.
    They prefer cheap domestic carriers and cheap international carriers.
    That’s why Qantas is in trouble.

  11. wordwork2010@gmail.com

    Spot On Bernard Keane on every point you make.

    Qantas doesn’t want to be Qantas anymore and capitalism’s gone too far. If you doubt second point, watch Peter Reith et al rabbit about Margaret Thatcher being the Greatest, think of Britain’s riots, think of the Occupiers and think about how we got to this place.

  12. Oscar Jones

    And let us not forget the creative accounting that pushes JetStar’s losses onto QANTAS to create the lie Joyce perpetuates that QANTAS international routes are loss making. It’s a fib and a scam.

  13. Jimmy

    John – “That’s why Qantas is in trouble.” It still posted a very respectable $500m profit last year, after allowing $250m in lost profit from the various natural disasters. It was good enough to get the boss a payrise.

  14. liliwyt

    Gillard saying today she was worried about court action against clause 431 is a joke, its HER legislation

    At the risk of going off topic – Suzanne, I heard the Prime Minister say that this morning as well and thought it was curious. Perhaps she’s gun shy after the Malaysian debacle? I’d be interested to hear a rational discussion about this – why have a clause in legislation that you can’t use because it will put the government at risk of court action?

  15. Suzanne Blake

    @ liliwyt

    Yes Gillard is gun shy, cause she is out of touch and knows she is on thin ice

  16. Suzanne Blake

    @ Jimmy


    Joyce this morning said he had called Albanese, Tourism Minister, Work Place Relation Minister and Gillard, all through his PA. Only Albanese called him back and Joyce was on phone, went to voicemail, and Joyce called him back.

  17. Jimmy

    Liliwyt – “Gillard saying today she was worried about court action against clause 431 is a joke, its HER legislation” The ministerial powers have not yet been tested, therefore it is forseeable that the minister makes his determination, the parties (or one of the parties) rush of to the courts and get an injunction and the planes stay grounded until the issue is resolved which would be longer than going direct to FWA.

    They will want to test this provision against a less time critical case first, one that effects only one factory or one small company not something as big and as critical to the economy as Qantas.

  18. Andrew Demase

    What we need is the largest class action ever seen in this country.

    People like Joyce should be personally liable for the chaos he has caused. It should not be up to a private board of directors to decide whether an airline as large as QANTAS should stop flying at 30 seconds notice.

    This is terrorism against defenceless people who in good faith paid for tickets.

    But there is no law that will penalise CEO’s. They wield all the power. Government are the front line troops for The Filthy Rich who run the economy.

  19. leone

    SB, Joyce may have said that, but he was telling lies. Albanese says that one of Joyce’s staff called his office on Saturday and told his staff to expect a call from Joyce. When that call didn’t happen Albanese rang Joyce three times – he gave exact times – and couldn’t get hold of him. Eventually he managed it. Joyce did not try to contact Gillard at all, that was a blatant lie.

    Joyce has been peddling lies to anyone who would give him air time all morning and he’s been caught. Gillard and Albanese very calmly and clinically demolished all the porkies and said that Joyce would be holding a presser this afternoon to set the record straight. I suppose the media will ignore this, I also suspect that the lying little sod will decide to hide under a rock rather than correct his ‘errors’.

  20. michael r james

    Nice take. Forgive me for patting myself on the back too (my Sunday post, below) though this thought is straight from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious. If the Australian public and the Gillard government allow Joyce–a $2M payrise and industrial terrorism-thuggery–to win this, the 1% will be even more ruthless.

    michael r james Posted October 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    Other than industrial relations in general, this has horribly serious consequences. ………I can barely bring myself to watch. This is definitely the 1% (or the aspirant 1%) trying to wreck the country for their own miserable ends.]
    And to that other crazed commenter, you have managed to get most of the facts wrong as usual. Where is your evidence for any of it, including the labour cost differential between Q and V? Answer: from Qantas management, that’s who. Let us hope the WFA brings some transparency to these wild statements, and some transparency to the how much Jetstar has been subsidized by management bleeding the Qantas budget by various tricks (but claiming otherwise).

    And clause 431 was written by one John Winston Howard , and has never been used or tested. On top of that, if Gillard had used it you would have been the first to have shrieked…government intervention, the sky is falling, we’re turning communist.

  21. Jimmy

    SB – “Joyce this morning said he had called Albanese, Tourism Minister, Work Place Relation Minister and Gillard, all through his PA. Only Albanese called him back and Joyce was on phone, went to voicemail, and Joyce called him back.” Yes and then Qantas “clarified” that later to say that the PM had in fact not been called. It was also revealed that Albanese only called Joyce after Joyce failed to contact him at the pre appointed time and Joyce then rang Albanese back.

  22. Denis Goodwin

    At the end of the day the question that must be asked of Qantas management is why did they not make an application themselves under S424 (2) (b) (i) of the Fair Work Australia Act instead of shutting down operations?

    The claim that the outcome was a result of Joyce “forcing the Australian Government to act” is spurious unless you believe Fair Work Australia would have decided differently to an applicantion made by a Qantas bargaining representaive.

  23. shepherdmarilyn

    Suzanne, stop trolling.

    Joyce was wrong, end.

    And as the unions had no industrial action on Saturday when Joyce pulled the pin precisely what was Gillard supposed to intervene in?

    Sometimes you really show up your status as ignorant troll.

  24. Peter Whiteford

    SB “Mr Joyce also refuted media reports in News Ltd papers this morning that he tried to call Prime Minister Julia Gillard ahead of the grounding but his call was ignored.

    “We had talked to three senior ministers. I had no expectation to talk to the PM I knew she was tied up at CHOGM. There are misreports on that completely. That is completely inaccurately reported.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/live-coverage-qantas-ordered-back-in-the-air-20111031-1mqtm.html#ixzz1cKHjwbCe

  25. klewso

    See too where “Murdoch” has thrown it’s lot into “the red corner”? Reckon, with their control of the medium, and the way they like to spin news to suit their narrative, they’re going to be as forthcoming with these sort of embarrassing negatives, for Joyce’s arguments, while prosecuting his case in the public forum for him and the company?

    And what happened to “Ana Lingus” (or whatever it was), while he was “flying high”, playing with the “Joyce-stick”, there? (“Head-hunted”? That’s all they should have taken.)

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    The good news is that we will be spared millions of useless words by the lazy PG as they all spout the same nonsense.

  27. Jimmy

    Denis – “The claim that the outcome was a result of Joyce “forcing the Australian Government to act” is spurious unless you believe Fair Work Australia would have decided differently to an applicantion made by a Qantas bargaining representaive.”

    If anything I would think his actions would have weakend his position.

  28. geomac

    What Qantas did on the weekend can only be viewed in the same category as a wildcat strike. No advance notification or warning to the public , customers , authorities or employees. If a union did the same thing it would be fined a large amount yet apparently the same does not apply to Qantas.

  29. jj

    Isnt everyone getting a little hysterical – to my knowledge no has died as a result of all this. If the only thing that people have to complain about is “being inconvenienced or stranded” or “my marginal business has taken anther hit” – then we are all doing pretty well. There are about 6 billion people who have no reason or cant afford to travel by plane and never will – so my point is we are the lucky ones arnt we? I think we need another natural disaster or maybe we should start talking about getting out of unwinnable wars ie afgahistan.

  30. Tricot

    Get a life SB.

    No amount of soft-soaping Joyce’s act of as one of “timing” alters the fact that in a sheer act of bloody-mindedness he alone, or so-say with the board’s agreement, grounded the fleet, left some 60,000 to 80,000 passengers in the lurch.

    What is it about the right of politics that this blatant lock out is somehow due to the PM not “picking up the phone” is not seen for what it is, a crude attempt at political and economic blackmail? Oh how wise, after the non-even! Apparently, according to the latest, there was no phone call at all.

    If this had been the pilots or the baggage handlers who had gone out, the screeches from the right – such as yourself SB – and your media flunkies such as the Murdoch press, would have been deafening about the “economic sabotage” and “holding to ransom” of the Australian public.

    One thing is for certain, Qantas is in the process of being destroyed by those engaged in its “managment”, but then again, as far a pedigree is concerned, these actions by the likes of Qantas management come from the “lock the mills and starve the workers back to work” dating from the 19th century.

    Scratch the right and all you get is greedy, self-destructive and self-serving individuals.

    In the case of Qantas they do not even give a stuff for their customers such is their headlong lurch into “Asia”.

    One thing about you SB seems to be your tin ear to anything which might be described as a balance view of and issue. However I enjoy reading your comments as they remind me of why those on the right should become a figure of fun rather than taken seriously.

  31. michael r james

    Marilyn (at 2:28 pm).

    I think you are overlooking Joyce’s other reason: those red ties that the pilots were wearing were a severe and imminent danger to health and safety. (a bit like a certain troll’s posts which induce headaches).

  32. SBH

    John, to a point I agree but QANTAS management have pursued this strategy for some time and should be held responsible for the airlines performance. As Oscar Jones points out people are all to willing to blame this on the government but oh so reluctant to criticise the guy who’s actually in charge.

    The emotional disconnect is for people who thought QANTAS was anything other than a cash cow for our Hibernian Chainsaw Al. Safety the number one priority? No it’s just money.

  33. granorlewis

    Suzanne Blake says it so clearly. The work practices promoted by the engineers and the baggage handlers, to say nothing of the Pilots, are from the 1950’s, when we all had to check the oil and water in our cars every time before we started them up each day.

    There is no need to have nine engineers on a modern airliner flying 500km or even 3000km. It is a nonsense.

    It is absolutely time, in the National interest, that such work practices are revised. The Nation’s productivity is in rapid decline, and it is Companies like Qantas that are trying to address these matters so that Australia can remain competitive in the modern world.

  34. Stozonomo

    This is a sad time for domestic air travel in Australia. The race to the bottom by Qantas poses a real problem if you have to fly between WA and the eastern states. Virgin and Jetstar are real down market players, which is fine for short haul flights between Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide.
    My wife had to pay $700 one way back to Perth in Virgin cattle-class, sustained by a muffin and a cold cup of tea. Hope the flight attendants didn’t call her “Luv”.
    The bind is that by not flying Qantas, it will make it worse for the staff.
    I am sure Joyce doesn’t give a ‘rat’s’ and is laughing all the way to the bank with his ‘pay-cut’.

  35. Whistleblower

    After this breach of trust by Qantas management towards passengers using passenger discomfort as a bargaining tool in the restructuring of the company, I have made a decision that I will never travel with Qantas again and will seek alternative airline options at all times.

    The Gillard Labor government also has a lot to answer for creating opportunities through Fair Work Australia changes to empower unions to undertake costly rolling industrial action, and for watching on while their union mates exercised industrial blackmail.

    What nobody expected was a bigger act of bastardry by Qantas management to use its customers as pawns in a bigger act of blackmail. I will never travel Qantas again unless there is no alternative carrier, and I would urge other Australian travellers to do likewise.

  36. SimsonMc

    Interestingly (but not a surprise) that good old Tony Abbott has prostituted the Liberal party values because he thinks he might get some votes. I could never imagine John Howard not coming out and publicly supporting an employer’s right to take action in an industrial dispute whether it was right or wrong. And so he should, that is what the Liberal Party is all about. But as Laurie Oakes pointed out last night and I haven’t heard anything to the contray, Tony Abbott has not come out in support of Qantas management. I am not sure what the Liberal Party stands for anymore. Clearly it’s not for Employers.

  37. David Maynard

    just another example of a company wanting to keep the “old trusted” image developed over years of reliable safe service whilst completely rebuilding the internal mechanisms, making it no diferent to anyone else. Trying to sell “were Australian” whilst really wanting to be anything but. Much like many of the “old trusted ” products we buy, which are now made overseas , but with the country of origin written in minute writing to conceal. Or like overseas companies that buy Australian sounding names or old familiar names to exploit their nostalgia value.

  38. Angrybudgie

    No companies like this are trying to find the cheapest way to make the most money they possibly can. Stuff their employees and stuff their customers. Greed is good. When they eventually go to Asia, as they fully intend to, as did Bonds etc. and some areas of the country are left with no airline service, what will you say then.

  39. klewso

    Any ideas how much (in advertising) this is going to cost the company/share-holders to try and buy back that “good will” and custom? They could take some of back out of that “pay cut”?

  40. drovers cat

    “It’s no moral judgment, simply an accurate description of what Joyce is doing — threatening havoc and spreading fear as a means of achieving political and economic ends.”
    So you should resign, Barnaby … no wait

  41. shepherdmarilyn

    REmind us again of the many problems found with the airbus because of shoddy maintenance? Done in Singapore?


    I am chortling though with the likes of Chris Kenny and others deprived of endless lies and distortions because FWA were clear in their reasoning.

  42. zut alors

    Joyce fails to understand that a company is its people – not just its balance sheet or a list of plant, machinery and inanimate assets. And I agree with Bernard, grounding the fleet was industrial terr0rism.

    A question to Jo Joyce’s supporters: why is this CEO so deserving of an inflated salary if Qantas shareholders can’t be paid a dividend for the past two years? Sounds like Joyce deserved a pay CUT.

  43. Catebla

    Really just consistent with classical liberal democratic theory (Bentham, James Mill) and the tenets of Weber’s rationality (Modernism). Means to ends with the latter outweighing the former. You do have to break eggs to make an omelet don’t you.

  44. Whistleblower

    Perhaps Conroy and Gillard could have a three-hour meeting to solve this problem and cook up a plan for a new national airline using the same business model as was used for the NBN.

    This would have a fantastic appeal in country electorates because with the price equalisation model used for the NBN everybody would travel at the same rate regardless of their location using a flat rate fare. Of course in sparsely populated country electorates, we would probably to provide a helicopter service to give everybody equal access to transport services, and of course the more profitable routes would be required to cross subsidise this service using the NBN cross subsidy pricing model.

    Of course itwould be essential to stop existing carriers competing with this new airline and cherry picking the profitable routes so it would be necessary compulsorily acquire their infrastructure to stop them competing. Of course we would thenthen we go back to government mandated service standards and the associated union featherbedding and everybody would be happy.

  45. GeeWizz

    I think the big issue here is going to be the Fair Work Australia legislation Gillard wrote up and implemented.

    Heres what Joyce had to say about FWA:
    [” “He rejected suggestions he go to Fair Work Australia earlier. “There wasn’t sufficient impact on the national interest for that to be successful, that was our advice.”

    Mr Joyce said he had no option but to ground all Qantas planes. “It was the only way we could bring it to a head.” “]

    So it seems under Gillards FWA legislation you have to bring the nations economy to it’s knee’s before FWA will act to shut down industrial action.

    Can we rack this one up as yet another Gillard stuff up?

  46. Bill Northcott

    Why not call Joyce’s bluff:
    Re-nationalise the Qantas international services. Since according to Joyce they are losing lots of money, there would be no need for compensation.
    Then he and he right wing board mates can start up what ever airlines they like wherever. It would be interesting to see how much profit they actually make without the international operation to fudge from.

    I gave up being a Qantas international passenger some time ago, and it is nothing to do with price. The competition have better service on better aircraft and fly them to places I want to go to.

  47. shepherdmarilyn

    Gee, don’t you read? It was not her provision, it was Howards.

    And why would anyone bring the country to a stand still for nothing at all?

    Honestly you and your ilk are moronic.

  48. leone

    Joyce hoped to make the workers walk off the job, they didn’t. He’s left spluttering and lying and trying to make the best of a plan that went hugely wrong.

    The only stuff-up was made by Joyce.

  49. GeeWizz

    [“Joyce hoped to make the workers walk off the job, they didn’t. He’s left spluttering and lying and trying to make the best of a plan that went hugely wrong. “]

    This is the spin by the lefties.

    Qantas doesn’t make money with planes sitting on tarmac… there make money with planes flying through the air.

    The unions are the ones who want flights to stop because then they can squeeze Qantas of profits.

    So now the FWA has said everyone must work, no one can go on strike, all Qantas flights must fly. Thats a massive win for Qantas and we see it in their share price today… up 5% at last glance.

  50. Jimmy

    Geewizz – “Qantas doesn’t make money with planes sitting on tarmac” How many extra seats did Jetstart sell I wonder, and on short notice the price would of been higher.

  51. GeeWizz

    [“Why not call Joyce’s bluff:
    Re-nationalise the Qantas international services. Since according to Joyce they are losing lots of money, there would be no need for compensation.”]

    I gotta better idea…. how bout the Unions start their own airlines!

    It’ll be great, all employee’s can get paid $100 an hour, 3 hour lunch breaks, 10 weeks annual leave.

    Then you can have the union bosses as CEO, flights will be competitively priced at $2000 return trip from Sydney to Melbourne and QANTAS can do their own thing with “scab labour”. Everyones happy.

    So how bout it?

    I’ve gotta great name for it too…. Unionised Airways – Lousy service at Union Prices!

  52. Mike Flanagan

    The H R Nicholls Society visits Australia by air with a soft irish lilt!!!
    We all should remember Mr Leigh Clfiffords (Qantas Chairman) as the father of industrial belligerence whilst he was at Rio Tinto.

  53. Jimmy

    Geewizz – “It’ll be great, all employee’s can get paid $100 an hour, 3 hour lunch breaks, 10 weeks annual leave.” Or we can go down the path that Qantas are and have Thai workers being paid $100 a day and working under indenture contracts where if they quit or get sacked they have to pay Qantas back 4 weeks wages.

    By the way one of our examples is actually happening and one is an exaggerated fabrication.

  54. drsmithy

    So it seems under Gillards FWA legislation you have to bring the nations economy to it’s knee’s before FWA will act to shut down industrial action.

    Can we rack this one up as yet another Gillard stuff up?

    So you would prefer the Government wade into every minor dispute between an employer and its employees ?

  55. Aviators Allcock & Brown

    Keane is right once again. Surely people are aware that Qantas has been set up to fail. The MSM’s attack on Qantas over the last two years has been the condute to convince the Australian public that she’s a dead duck which needs to be shut down or sold off so the international carriers can pick over her bones and provide “rewards” for proponents of Global Corporate Governence.

    Joan Veon! no need to turn in your grave because someone else has picked up your baton.

  56. granorlewis

    Oh DRSMITHY – so this was a MINOR dispute??? Come on – it’s been going on for 9 months, costing the Company heaps, and annoying the hell out of us travellers week after week.

    Even Wayne Swan says it was a serious threat to the nation’s economy. If ever there was a time to test her legislation (Section 431) this was it. She wimped out!!!

  57. Jimmy

    “If ever there was a time to test her legislation (Section 431) this was it. She wimped out!!!” So you think it would of been wiser to go with section 431, get bogged down in the inevitable legal challenge and have the planes grounded for longer than just go straight to the FWA and have it over and done with?

  58. Helen Gray

    This is all about Greed.
    Greed of the shareholders and the Greed of Mr Joyce!
    It’s time for an Occupy the QANTAS headquarters movement!!!!

  59. Aviators Allcock & Brown

    Joyce is just the “little” lackey who gets paid such large funds to do the dirty work that only corporate psychopaths can do. It’s in his eyes.

  60. Gavin Moodie

    I’m not so sure that Qantas is internationally exposed. I think it has preferential access to landing slots at Australian ports, which I would now remove and tender to the highest bidder who meets appropriate safety and service standards.

  61. chris.white1@internode.on.net

    One reform from this dispute for all workers is that powerful corporations ought not to have the right to lawfully lock-out. 

    Qantas management tactics shows the lock-out – the employers’ weapon in collective bargaining – ought not to be available in any reasonable labour relations system.


    Qantas is a case study why the lock-out has to be banned.

    Qantas did not even in good faith – to anyone – give any notice.

    This lockout in response to the limited and responsible protected industrial action by the members of the three Qantas unions should in the public interest be unlawful.

    In a collective bargaining system, the more powerful corporations instead ought to be required to work out a settlement with their workers.


    The three unions had to go through detailed processes of application, then ballots, then members voting in favour and notice and constant negotiations. 

    Qantas simply plans that after the AGM we will lockout without notice. 

    Unreasonably the Fair Work Act (from WorkChoices) allows this.

    FWA has no legal requirement for the employer to give notice in the lock-out. No balloting of shareholders for the lock-out at e.g. the AGM, not the many processes forced on unions for lawful strikes.

    A serious process deficiency – another rule for 1%.

    For Australia’s collective bargaining system to work for employees in bargaining against the more powerful corporations, the lock-out has to be removed from the FairWork Act.

  62. DodgyKnees


  63. Kevin

    Who would want to be shareholder of an airline anyway….better to own shares in the airports (egMacquarie Airports ) than the airlines that use them.

    I took particular note of the public statement of a union official, a party to the current dispute, who approx a month ago issued a warning to the effect that it would not be a good idea to consider flying Qantas over the forthcoming Christmas/New Period. I reckon that threat said much about the union mentality.

  64. GeeWizz

    [“So you would prefer the Government wade into every minor dispute between an employer and its employees ?”]

    FWA isn’t “the government”.

    And “minor dispute” really? Pretty sure these union heavies have been doing 1 hour rolling strikes for the last few months now putting many booked flights and customers in mayhem.

    Of course Gillards not responsible for anything is she hacks, not even her own legislation?

    FWA legislation needs to be ammended forwithe to put the end to “industrial action”(read, unions behaving badly) when it looks like it is getting out of hand and has gone on over a long period of time, not when a company is forced to damage the economy for the FWA to step in.

  65. nightflyer

    Sammy Davis Jr (he knows who I mean) is absolutely right; the share price is cynically being driven down to the point where it’s a set up for another private equity buy out, this time at bargain basement. The CEO is only the frontman.

  66. davidk

    Big business is in charge and it knows it.

  67. GeeWizz

    BTW Can someone please remind me why as a taxpayer I am paying FWA again if not so they “wade into every *minor*(cough… laugh… cough) dispute?

    Seem like a tits on a bull department. If you gotta destroy the economy to get a hearing then it’s got major problems, someone should get sacked over this mess and seeing Julia Dillard was the one who wrote the legislation she’d be first up I reckon.

  68. granorlewis

    Mr White is typical of the Union movement and indeed the Labor Govt – all one way, and to hell with whomever it is that generates the activity and the income to pay the union members.

    He says it himself – virtually the only effective weapon available to the employer is the lock-out. As he said, the lock-out is solely ” the employers’ weapon in collective bargaining.”

    Maybe Qantas could have done it better, but in the face of union threats – very publicly – to apply a “slow bake” and all sorts of other threats – “travellers should not book travel with Qantas over Christmas” etc etc., what else could they do!!!

  69. SBH

    Geewizz the answer is that that was the system we used to have until Keating introduced what is quaintly but wrongly call a ‘right’ to strike. Before then strikes and lockouts in Australia were illegal.

    This dispute would have been resolved in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission without anything like this short term disruption. The IR players in the land decide they didn’t like it and over 15 years and four prime ministers we developed the current system.

    It’s unfair to blame Gillard. The structure of strike and lockout was Howard’s and under that system it would have been much more difficult for FWA to get involved.

    And please don’t be ‘pretty sure’ because you’d be wrong about those rolling stoppages.

  70. SBH

    granorlewis I’m happy to be proved wrong but i don’t believe “travellers should not book travel with Qantas over Christmas” is a quote from a union official. It maybe QANTAS’ interpretation but it shouldn’t be in quotes.

  71. granorlewis

    OMG – now the Aviators can read “eyes” too. Whatever next!!!!

  72. Paddlefoot

    Not another ‘too big to fail’ scenario ! All government support for this excuse for an airline should be immediately withdrawn and let it all swing in the winds of extreme capitalism. Look what bailing out banks did for us .. suddenly private debt incurred by swindlers and shysters becomes public debt and we entertain the concept of ‘expansionary austerity’ or some other bollocks. Sorry – no more bailing out of anything dodgy .. and Qantas has been ordinary for years.

  73. granorlewis

    Sorry SBH – I don’t have a video or a diary note, but it was Sheldon himself a week or two back. Believe it or not, I watched his lips.

  74. Liz45

    Did anyone read the article in Sunday’s Sun Herald?

    It states that “Last week the aircraft maintenance engineers’ union wrote to Mr Joyce asking him to explain why he was breaching the Qantas Sale Act and the company’s constitution’

    The letter, obtained by the Sun Herald, accused Mr Joyce of trying to move most of the airline’s international division overseas in breach of the Act. The Act, passed after the airline was privatised in 1995 to ensure the Australian character of Qantas from conducting scheduled international air transport passenger service under a name other than its company name; or a registered business name that includes the expression ‘Qantas.'”

    It also requires the majority of Qantas International’s maintenance, administration, training, catering and flight operations facilities remain in Australia.”

    I wonder how those who criticise the workers at Qantas would feel if they were paid the same as their counterparts in Asia? OK for everyone else no doubt!

    The pilots only ‘activity’ was to wear red ties and promote their jobs while in the air! The TWU has brought about over 200 agreements during this year without losing any work time! The demonising of these workers who only want to protect their jobs is typical of those who are just anti-workers full stop!

    I do not recall a time where Qantas had so many ‘near misses’ re safety- even without including the A30 Airbus designer problems? 3 in about 10 days? At a time where more mechanical repairs and maintenance is carried out in Asia? Coincidence???

    Also, Joyce could’ve gone to FWA himself – he chose not to! The Liberal Premiers in NSW and Victoria could’ve also – they also chose not to, but criticised the Federal Govt at the same time. What a pair of whimps! Petty little men with nothing better to do but whine like kids? Pathetic!

  75. granorlewis

    Sorry Jimmy – but she is a wimp. Who do you think would have taken a declaration from her into a legal nightmare – or whatever she said. Not Qantas – they just wanted to get on with it. Surely not the Unions – or maybe I’m wrong.

    A Sec 431 declaration would have instantly brought the result on Saturday afternoon, that it took FWA two days to reach.

    Truly a wimp. She just wanted the unions to have their two days in Court – where she thought there just might be a chance that her FWA judges would see it the way of the unions.

  76. Venise Alstergren

    SIMSONMC: Liberal Party Values? Run that past me again?

  77. botswana bob

    I gather Limited News has been running the line that the great man of aviation, Joyce tried to contact Gillard and if she’d only dropped the trivial task she was engaged in–walked out of a Commonwealth Heads of government meeting to take the great man’s call–it could all have been averted. The ultra lefties that run the ABC say the aforesaid great man now says this didn’t happen.

    Another day another beat up from those regime change focused types at Limited News.

  78. drsmithy

    Oh DRSMITHY – so this was a MINOR dispute??? Come on – it’s been going on for 9 months, costing the Company heaps, and annoying the hell out of us travellers week after week.

    I’m just trying to establish whether or not you believe the Government should intervene, uninvited, into employment disputes between private entities.

  79. kb

    Bernard is exactly right here. I am not too sure how many of the commentators here actually have real experience of working inside big corporates like Qantas but I do – I have worked at the upper echelons of three top 100 ASX listed companies and have dealt on the inside circle with their CEOs (not reporting to them but close enough to see what really goes on and I can assure everyone that it really isn’t pretty). I would bet my house that AJ’s move was premeditated – it is just semantics that it took board approval on Saturday and they have to deny everything until then or trigger a stock market announcement – boards don’t sign off anything without detailed management preparation and presentation and planning.

    Also in my experience chairman are very involved in these types of significant decisions and it is inconceivable that LC was not completely aware if not the driver of this well before it happened. The decision to lock out would have been planned in detail and timed to perfection to maximise its impact (during CHOGM and Melb cup) and minimise shareholder issues (as announced after the AGM on W/E). The fact that the IR circumstances were not quite as dire as Qantas would have liked (ie. negotiations starting to make progress, strikes on hold) and Qantas was making money (just shifting it around) and AJ just got a big pay rise just were just not perceived as relevant by an out of touch and very traditional and typically poor performing Australian board.

    Unfortunately Qantas has fallen for the allure of the grass is greener over there (eg. in Asia, in low cost airlines) which has afflicted many other big ASX companies. The problem with their logic is that there is also more competition over there and fewer natural competitive advantages which they enjoy here (by virtue of them being the national carrier). All the rubbish about Qantas international losing money is BS – having also worked in charted accountancy I know accountants can show anything by allocating costs in a variety of defensible ways. Not only that but most people have missed the fact that Jetstar international has actually cannibalised some of the potentially profitable Qantas international routes as well as QI facing more recent competition from middle eastern airlines and some extraordinary events eg. volcanoes. Also qantas domestic and Jetstar and frequent flyer would not make so much money if they did not have the international arm – its a big profitable traffic feeder as well as a major driver of frequent flyer activity. Often this approach is drive by managements desire to grow a much bigger business (esp. by acquisition) so they get paid more and by boards (so they get all expenses trips overseas with their partners for board meetings)

    Its a sad if not surprising state of affairs in Australian big business these days – its just that a lot of people just really do not understand that senior executive management and board members are the most important stakeholders in modern capitialism – all business decisions are really made to benefit them not shareholders and certainly not customers. The 99% have a valid point even if they don’t really know what it is.

  80. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with chris.white1@internode.on.net

    Public companies should be required to have a vote of their boards of directors before they take industrial action.

  81. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with chris.white1’s post on Monday 31 October 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Public companies should be required to have a vote of their boards of directors before they take industrial action.

  82. michael r james

    @BOTSWANA BOB Posted Monday, 31 October 2011 at 6:55 pm

    This is what you are referring to. The Australian should be reported to ACMA because not only is this untrue it is also a contravention of their own Code of Conduct.

    michael r james Posted October 31, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised but The Australian is still pushing the “we warned everyone” line. In a new story published online at 5:08PM late this afternoon they are repeating all the stuff that Qantas and Joyce actually unambiguously retracted this morning.
Then, again I suppose I am not surprised but I am increasingly beyond forgiving, ABC News (on ABC 24 at 6pm) has repeated the exact same stuff. None of the qualifications or total repudiation of the story. WTF? With this media like this what hope is there for an informed public or an informed rational discussion?

Qantas had warned the Gillard government it could ground its airline fleet
BY: BEN PACKHAM AND LANAI VASEK October 31, 2011 5:08PM]

  83. Bo Gainsbourg

    This looks like the end of Qantas as we knew it, one of the highest quality airlines in the world. People paid extra for that. Not any more. This is clearly a deliberate strategy to gut the airline of Australian decently paid workers who adhere to higher safety standards and go for cheap overseas labor. It will probably work, but before you cheer them on just have a think as to whether soon the same will be done to your particular industry. We can’t all be CEOs of foreign workforces, but when Abbot and co get in, as they inevitably will, that will be the only real constituency they care about. If this mob could put 90% of Australians out of work to enrich themselves they’d do it in a heartbeat. Same process is happening in mining where we have 100% foreign owned mining companies now dictating to us who our prime minister will be and writing their own tax laws. If you think the occupy protesters didn’t have enough to complain about just wait a bit, we’re definitely heading down the American path here where anyone but the top 1% can get stuffed.

  84. Peter Ormonde

    No longer a national carrier, no longer an icon, no longer anything to be proud of …. the real cost of flogging off the flying kangaroo.

    Let them go I say. And deregulate the Australian airways to the max, bar safety of course. But no more barriers to entry. Let Qantas sail off into the sunset. In fact drive them out with aggressive domestic competition. And not a skerrick of government support or assistance except for the displaced (temporarily) workforce.

    Gut the b*stards.

  85. Suzanne Blake

    @ Peter Ormonde

    The US did this 25 years ago or more and there were around 50 airlines in the USA. In the late 80’s, around half went broke (eg Piedmont etc). Now we have a situation, were only one or two makes money (eg Southwest).

    I am sure your Union mate would not be happy with your suggestion

  86. the man on the clapham omnibus

    Hardly obscene demands from the unions that were still being bargained, modest CPI level wage raises (~2.5%) and some demands not to pursue overseas labour to drive down wages and conditions which may impact the safety of the vehicle you are working in.

    Contrast that with a potential multi-million dollar 71% pay rise to the boss a few days before, nodded at by the board with a pretty average performance on share price and revenue growth. Cost of that for the employees is 1000 jobs and none of the above being on the table.

    For all the complaints about a lack of productivity in Australia, how about the bosses and board taking a bit of responsibility, a disingeneous kiss up , kick down approach to staff management, stategy and years of bungling mistakes blaming unions for all their woes should come home to roost.

    All the people who missed family re-unions, weddings, work what’s the chance of a class action?

    Recent record of this company:
    * $50 million class action from hundreds of disgruntled travel agents who claim the airline short-changed them by not paying commissions on fuel surcharges
    * $200 million class action alleging they were part of a secret cartel that used fuel, security and war-risk surcharges artificially to inflate air freight prices

  87. zut alors

    As usual, folks, SB has exact facts and figures at her fingertips. Fair takes my breath away…

  88. Rick

    Under Crikey comment logic:
    Union stop work, go slows, strikes inconveniencing passengers = OK.
    Airline stop work inconveniencing passengers = thuggish corporate greed not considering the passengers rights and bringing country to its knees.

    If Bob Hawke was around he would have read the riot act to both of the groups and called in the Air Force.

  89. drsmithy

    Union stop work, go slows, strikes inconveniencing passengers = OK.
    Airline stop work inconveniencing passengers = thuggish corporate greed not considering the passengers rights and bringing country to its knees.

    The key difference is that the strike actions were given with the requisite warning periods, and for specified and scheduled times, allowing travellers both an opportunity to mitigate the impact, and have some idea of when it would be over.

    Joyce’s dummy-spit was done with neither.

    There is a fundamental difference between these two actions.

  90. Ian

    If I can’t expect to be called back the same day by the PM why should Joyce. If Julia were able to get back to Joyce (had she in fact been called in the first place) an appropriate response might be; “Look here old chap, if you go ahead with this ridiculous lockout idea of yours we will see to it that we cut our government’s business dealings with you and remove all your privileges in the Australian market just as fast as we are able – so there!”

  91. Suzanne Blake

    @ Ian

    There is no risk for Qantas with Government business?

    1. MP’s travel out of their way to get business class seats. That is why they dont travel JetStar or Virgin

    2. Also access to Chaimans Lounge

    3. FF points

  92. botswana bob

    I’d have to grudgingly admit it may take an Irishman to transform QANTAS into the RYANAIR of the South Pacific. Soon passengers will be charged for going to the loo, for carry on bags and perhaps even breathing oxygen. If anyone wants a look at what QANTAS could become, check out Fascinating Aida’s hilarious Cheap Flights:

  93. eric

    Qantas the half Australian owned “icon”is copping its fair wack for treating its customers as cash cows and idiots for years.

    Qantas has been dying internationally for a very long time and this action coupled with the number of near misses lately wont stop that process.

    Abbott and the other idiots like transport spoksman Truss on his front bench just look stupid in this debate and Gillard at last looks in control of an issue.

    Since when did the Liberals think government intervention in an industrial dispute was the right thing to do?

  94. Dogs breakfast

    “Perhaps Conroy and Gillard could have a three-hour meeting to solve this problem and cook up a plan for a new national airline using the same business model as was used for the NBN.”

    God this has really brought out the trolls hasn’t it. Non-sequitur really is the great contribution from the right of politics isn’t it.

    Suzanne Blake – oh dear, words fail me. you should maybe read a bit more and stop drinking the kool-aid.

    Peter Ormonde, my thoughts exactly. Is there any reason for us to continue to prop up Qantas any more? Open skies, govt flights contracts going to Virgin. I can no longer see the reason for Australia to have an airline anymore. What advantage is there. Is the entire world really going to stop flying to Australia, in any foreseeable circumstance. Do they really prop up our economy so much.

    I know there were reasons in the past why we might want an airline of our own, but the world has moved on, surely.

    As for the trolls arguing that Gillard should have moved in earlier, they would be just as vocal if she had, complaining about moving in too quickly. There is no reason, they have no idea, they just know that it must all be Gillard’s fault. Howard’s legislation – no excuse, untested in court – no excuse. It’s easy if you are ignorant and understand nothing, everything is Gillard’s fault.

    KB – nice input, eactly right. There is no moral compulsion on Qantas or the Board, they are their for themselves (and work for themselves under the illusion of working for the shareholders).

    And the pay increase, outrageous at any time, while the ‘occupy’ protests are gathering strength.

    I’m not a big air traveller. I won’t be on Qantas, ever. A disgrace.

  95. Dogs breakfast

    It will be interesting to see just how well Qantas goes trying to compete with Asian companies in Asia on Asia’s terms.

    I suspect they may come back battered and bruised and begging to once again be ‘the national carrier’.

    In a race to the bottom, nobody wins. Qantas had its point of difference, which has now been trashed.

    I think this may rank as being as stupid as the Rio Tinto Alcan buy, as costly as Homeside, as clever as appointing Sol Trujillo. God the corporate mega-errors continue to mount, almost as quickly as their executive pay packets.

  96. MangoMania

    Joyce got a payrise because he was a major segment of the 97% of shareholders who voted for that payrise.
    Major shareholders have more voting clout therefore Joyce voted for his own payrise.

  97. GeeWizz

    [“People like Joyce should be personally liable for the chaos he has caused. It should not be up to a private board of directors to decide whether an airline as large as QANTAS should stop flying at 30 seconds notice.”]

    Hang on, hang on, hang on.

    Gillards Fair Work Australia legislation says that Qantas must cause damage to the Australian economy before it can act.

    The chaos is of Gillards making… she’s the one who wrote the rules, she’s the one who past this legislation.

    Joyce followed the requirements of FWA rules to a T. Cause economic damage and the FWA will act was the requirement and Qantas obliged.

  98. Socratease

    Joyce quit Ansett’s management team not long that company flew into oblivion. Will he repeat the act at QANTAS?

  99. Socratease

    ^ make that “not long before”

  100. SBH

    Geewiz that’s not correct. The company had many options under the FW Act. Joyce chose to lockout the workers and QANTAS alone caused the disruption.

    granorlewis thanks for the update, I didn’t hear Sheldon say that but it is quite different from what the ALAEA were saaying.

  101. beetwo77

    The truthhurts so much it had to change its name.

  102. drsmithy

    I have to say it’s entertaining to watch this “debate” from the perspective of political stereotypes.

    On the one had, we have the right-wingers advocating pro-active and uninvited Government intervention in the labour dealings of a private company and their employeers.

    On the other hand, we have the lefties vigorously defending the wages and working conditions of people in the top 1% (pilots – yes, that’s right, pilots are in “the 1%”) and top 5% (maintenance engineers) income earners in the country. (It would be less entertaining if they’d limited said support to the TWU members, whose incomes are at least well below the median).

  103. SBH

    A bit simplistic Drsmithy – if well organised key workers can be shown the back of the bosses hand so easily what hope does someone in a shop or call centre have?

  104. Pamela

    Those who whinge about “overpaid Australian workers not being competitive” might like to consider what happened when USA workers struggled to keep up their standard of living in the face of downsizing of wages there.

    As EXTREME CAPITALISM took control and squeezed wages and jobs out of the market- USA workers took out unsustainable loans from banks to pay for houses and a standard of living which had slipped beyond their grasp and that they could no longer afford. The banks in turn on-sold these unsustainable debts and so the GFC began…. a simple story which does not cover all the complexities I know.

    However those wanting to squeeze Australian workers and conditions down to USA levels might consider the broader consequences. USA with the worlds third largest population can afford to throw – away 20 million workers onto the scraphead and use their extensive prison system to control the social consequences.

    Australia with only 20 million plus people needs every economically viable worker to be spending their money to keep the economy afloat.
    Bringing in cheap third world labor to up a company’s bottom line is a short-term solution which only benefits the flyin- flyout Ceo and his board. It will destroy this country. it is worth it?

  105. drsmithy

    A bit simplistic Drsmithy – if well organised key workers can be shown the back of the bosses hand so easily what hope does someone in a shop or call centre have?

    Well that’s the point. The only workers here who are in any real danger are the TWU, and that’s precisely because they’re _not_ “key workers” – they’re essentially unskilled labourers.

    Which is why I highlighted that it’s a bit.. strange… to see them lumped in with the the pilots and engineers, who are not likely to see any serious downside no matter what happens.

  106. Jimmy

    Dr Smithy – Maybe it’s because the Pilots and engineers action can get more notice and assist the TWU. Union solidarity.

  107. Kevin

    I agree with much of what Pamela has said about maintaining wage standards. However I also believe that there is some middle ground in industrial practises that need constant evaluation and that appear to be part of what management in the current Qantas dispute wishes to undertake. There are constant changes to technology, unfortunately so in some cases that need to alter the way in which things are done. All very well to “maintain standards” but standards change. Having been involved in the world of industrial relations previously I have seen many past practices and prevailing standards alter for the good of an industry, and sometimes for the good for its employees.

    Whilst we have a community that demands highly competitive airfares, constantly falling in real terms, we will have the type of industrial situation that is presently before us, not only in airlines but in most other areas of life, eg lower supermarket prices that undermines the common worker.

  108. JMNO

    Here, here Bernard. You’ve summarised the issues very well. I’ve long been concerned about the direction that Qantas management seems to be taking the airline, treating their staff with contempt and deliberately undermining the international service so that it collapses and can be replaced with some kind of cheap offshore ‘premium’ airline. How on earth can they build a premium offshore service with a cheap and nasty approach to their employees and a pursuit of the mediocre rather than excellence?

    It seems that another mediocre, overpaid CEO is about to destroy another Australian icon – with the support of the incestuous boys (it’s mainly boys) club that dominates Australian senior management and boards with its lack of imagination, little commitment to innovation or long-term thinking and zero people management skills.

  109. SBH

    yeah, point taken but there’s more at stake then the wages of the LAMEs I think.

  110. Catching up

    Well they may have nine engineers, something is wrong. It has not stop their engines

    Maybe Qantas should do what Virgin does. Talk to the workers, not just tell them what you are going to do.

  111. Liz45

    Those who object to the pilots salaries? If I’m in the air, I want the best pilots to get me safely down. When I compare what they do, their responsibilities, skills, update training etc, then I say, good for them. It costs heaps to become a pilot in the first place, and Qantas pilots have had a reputation for years as being the best – as long as their planes are maintained properly????

    If the right wingers have their way re a chase to the bottom re wages/salaries, who’ll buy the products the rich manufacture, provide etc? There’ll be lots more people out of work as the goods will shrink in number and type? Then what? Or perhaps they want us to be like Indonesia, where people are living in slum conditions or taken to work in buses for a pittance a month? They’re the ones who make the expensive shoes etc for the 1% who can afford them. Is this the future they want for Australia? They need to sort this out first, and then have the guts to admit it – if not, they should shut up! Take a pay cut yourselves? But oh no! they never mean “THEM” only everyone else ‘below them’? The great unwashed?


    It now appears that Joyce leaked to The Telegraph days prior to his decision? Fancy that? He’s changed his stories depending on his audience! He’s a liar!

  112. Frank Campbell

    Joyce is a vicious corporate thug.

  113. Glenn Brandham

    Well said, Liz, I echo your input and love your questions…and I agree entirely with your free character analysis of joyce. It must suck to be him…never knowing which one of the hired help will just do him in.

  114. Liz45

    @FRANK CAMPBELL – I agree!

    @SB – It is not HER legislation! The section of the Act in question was part of WorstChoices – has never been tested! There could’ve been legal action which could’ve seen the planes grounded for days(similar to the TAMPA dispute?). People would’ve been stranded for days perhaps! Funny how Joyce had time to contact his mates at the Telegraph!

  115. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: SB wouldn’t know her a^se from breakfast time. Why waste your keyboard?

    DRSMITHY: Um, can a company which is registered on the ASX be a private company?

  116. Liz45

    VENISE – Good question about ASX and a private company. Pity it was ever privatised(yes, DRSMITHY I know Labor did it – shame on them). I wonder how many shares Joyce has? Did that mean he had more clout re the decision to increase his salary? I bet most of the shareholders are people with money anyway. I can’t afford to have any shares in anything! If I did I’d only invest in companies where I agreed with what they were producing etc? I often think that shareholders have no morals – look at the numbers who continue to invest in James Hardie for example! I NEVER would!

  117. Ian

    The problem with accepting the middle ground Kevin is the the middle ground is always below the status qou and so will the next middle ground be and the next and until workers are well below ground.

    On pilots pay etc … If they are top earners themselves (in the top 1 % seems implausible though) they nonetheless are not part of the management establish and have to fight tooth and nail to retain their position like all the other non-elites. If the are able to work in solidarity with the others so much the better for all.

  118. drsmithy

    DRSMITHY: Um, can a company which is registered on the ASX be a private company?

    I meant private in the sense of not belonging to the Government, not private in the sense of unlisted on the stock exchange. I would have thought that was fairly obvious.

  119. drsmithy

    On pilots pay etc … If they are top earners themselves (in the top 1 % seems implausible though)

    The top 1% starts at about $200k. A QANTAS international pilot will earn somewhere between $200k and $500k (plus have a whole bunch of other perks).

  120. Son of foro

    Maybe Suzanne Blake’s ‘ex-Labor MP insider’ told her that Joyce had called Gillard. If the big R says it on Sky, you know it must be true.

  121. geomac

    The way Hockey was sweating in a short interview with the ABC you could tell he was worried about revealing when the libs knew of the grounding. It seems like a joint exercise by the opposition and Qantas timed to benefit both. Forcing the government to apply to Fairwork and disrupting CHOGM for the PM. Abbott cut short a door stop when questions turned to the subject of knowledge about the grounding. Confident with the three word slogans but uncomfortable with easy but probing questions. These abrupt terminations with journalists are now as much a trait with Abbott as his bike gear.

  122. Suzanne Blake

    @ geomac

    Hockey is always sweating during TV interviews, under the lights. Its cause he is a fat piig, simple as that.

  123. Kevin

    There is some truth Ian, in your point re middle ground on standards. However it concerns me to have included as part of an industrial claim, for the engineers I believe, that pay scales for several categories be based on years of service rather than on merit. On the surface this seems to be an antiquated provision. Also I would like to know what differing work practises exist between the baggage handlers of Virgin, who are allegedly paid 12% less than their colleagues at Qantas.

    All very well for us to talk about the low standards of pay of Asian countries and the need to not fall to these levels in Aust companies. I hope we never do. But over many years the Aust worker has done well in achieving high standards. Sometimes too much so. Just one example of this being the 17% rec leave loading applicable across the board. This was introduced for a limited part of the metal trades, and which every union in the country then campaigned for before eventually it became the norm. The Whitlam Government’s Industry Minister, Clyde Cameron in later years expressed great regret for this provision moving beyond its initial limited introduction.

  124. SBH

    Kevin, Firstly thanks for the use of ‘allegedly’ and ‘on the surface’ it shows a restraint often absent in this debate.

    I’ve looked at the merit v service aspect and all I can say is that QANTAS are giving an unreasonable interpretation similar to the old police pay scales where promotion up the grades was rigidly based on seniority. you could be knocked back if you were no good but you couldn’t jump the queue no matter how good you were. I can’t think of a single existing agreement with this feature and even the police forces around the country have moved on to more equitable and sensible arrangements. It is dishonest for QANTAS to portray the ALAEA claim as being of this sort, just like it would be dishonest to claim that a $1.7million bonus is a pay cut and yet it happens.

    Most pay scales in Australia have an incremental element to them. In fact, most are structured as various grade of increasing pay for work of greater responsibility and complexity with increments within each grade. The concept that you get better at a job over time and therefore are of more value to your employer is widely applied. In this the LAMEs are no different. Their structures, both proposed and current, recognises increased payments for increase skill gained through training or for specialist jobs. This seems like a sensible arrangement and one the parties have been broadly happy with for many years.

    I understand the difficulty arises because the ALAEA are unhappy with the way training is allocated, or more accurately, restricted. As I understand the claim, they see that management is stopping their members undertaking training which would then allow them to increase their pay and they are seeking that this practice be overturned. Now that may or may not be a reasonable business propostion but it’s certainly a reasonable thing to include as a topic of negotiations and is quite different from the dishonest QANTAS view.

    And just while I’m on my hind legs, I wouldn’t give much merit to Clive’s retirement ramblings which occured much after the event and are of dubious accuracy.

  125. Venise Alstergren

    DRSMITHY: It was obvious to us, but not everyone reading the post is as intelligent as you? (Ha!)

  126. Liz45


    I’d like those who continue to bellyache about pilots salaries to reveal their incomes. I’ve found a great source of annoyance over many years how those (in many different occupations etc including politicians) bemoan the ‘threat to the economy’ etc by workers entitlements (such as 17 1/2% leave loading – penalty rates etc) but conveniently ignore their own privileged position.

    Federal, State and Territory Govts vote themselves increases on a regular basis. They enjoy lurks and perks that others can only dream about, and have the best Retirement package of anyone in the country – paid for by us!

    They (the privileged) have a damned cheek! They should either lead the way and take a hefty cut in salaries or SHUT UP! I include s0-called journalists, economists and those on The Drum and other places who speak out from a ‘loftier perch’? It drives me nuts!

    It’s this attitude that is driving the 99% onto the streets – and I support them!

    I heard recently that workers in the US haven’t had any increases in REAL wages for 40 years. CEO’s and others have had increases between 150-300% over the last 10 yrs or so. In one year, Howard received an increase that amounted to my whole year on the pension! Obscene!

  127. drsmithy

    I’d like those who continue to bellyache about pilots salaries to reveal their incomes.

    I’m not “bellyaching” about pilots’ salaries. Merely making the point that they are quite high and chuckling at the incongruity of the left vigorously arguing workers in “the 1%” are being hard done by.

  128. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – It may have escaped your notice, but pilots aren’t the only people involved in this dispute – I believe it involves 3 Unions!

    Pilots are as important as doctors, teachers etc in my view. It costs a lot to be one, and they have continuing and ongoing safety training. Do other airlines?

    The issue with plane safety etc has only arisen since a lot of work is carried out in Asia? For years and years Qantas had the reputation that Joyce seems intent on slashing! 100% safety record – no accidents or even near misses. A few weeks ago we had about 3 ‘incidents’ in 10 days! Scary!

    As to the comparison with Virgin that someone made – their airplanes make up a much smaller number than Qantas planes(Lateline, Monday night). It’s also apparent that they have a more dignified, respectful and embracing relationship with their workers. Joyce could do an inservice course with Virgin – he might learn something about human relationships and treating people with respect. That’s how businesses prosper. Without the workers there’s no business let alone profits! He forgets that – to his peril!

    When a Qantas plane crashes(god forbid) who will get the blame? Joyce or the maintenance engineers/workers? Don’t need two guesses!

    Oh yes, they want job security and a just wage increase too – nowhere near 71% though!!!

  129. Ian


    Pay your local Occupation site a visit if you possibly can. Really none of us should sit back and do nothing as this movement will die a slow death if we don’t, actively and to the best of our abilities, join in – not saying you don’t though.

    Numbers count.

  130. Whistleblower

    The following is the weasel words response from that great industrial leader Alan Joyce which makes no reference to using 80,000 Qantas customers as pawns in an industrial dispute.My absolute certainty in relation to this matter is that I will never fly Qantas again and I would hope that others will choose alternative airlines wherever possible in future in relation to this contemptible treatment of customers the crass purpose of maximising profits for shareholders. The weasel words response is as follows:

    “Now that Qantas has resumed normal operations I would like to update you on what the recent decision by Fair Work Australia means for you.

    I apologise sincerely for any inconvenience that you or your family experienced during the grounding of the Qantas fleet between Saturday evening and Monday afternoon.

    The decision to lock out some of our employees was an immensely difficult one and one that I did not want to have to make. But it was a decision that we were driven to by the industrial action of three unions, together representing less than 20 percent of Qantas employees.

    As of last Friday, industrial action by those unions had forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, disrupted 70,000 passengers and cost Qantas $68 million. Two union leaders had warned that industrial action could continue into next year.

    This would have had a devastating effect on our customers, on all Qantas employees and on the businesses which depend on Qantas services.

    On Saturday, I came to the conclusion that this crisis had to end. I made the decision to proceed with a lock-out, the only form of protected industrial action available to Qantas under the Fair Work Act, so that agreement could be reached quickly.

    Unfortunately, it was necessary as a precautionary measure to ground the fleet immediately after the announcement that a lock-out would take place. While I deeply regret the short-term impact of the fleet being grounded, following the Fair Work Australia decision we now have absolute certainty for our customers. No further industrial action can take place. No more aircraft will be grounded and no services cancelled as a result of industrial action.

    You can now book Qantas flights with complete confidence. This is an immeasurably better situation than last Friday, when Qantas faced the prospect of ongoing disruptions, perhaps for another 12 months.

    We have now moved into 21 days of negotiations with each of the unions with the assistance of Fair Work Australia. All parties will be treated equally in order to reach reasonable agreements. If this cannot happen, binding arbitration will take place to secure an outcome. We will respect whatever decisions are reached.

    Regardless of how and when the agreements are reached, the period of uncertainty and instability for Qantas is over. We are moving forward and putting this dispute behind us.

    Our focus now is on our customers. We want to restore your faith by returning our on-time performance to its normal high levels, continuing to invest in new aircraft and lounges and ensuring the best possible in-flight experience.

    The end of industrial action means we can concentrate on what matters – getting you to your destination on time and in comfort, offering the best network and frequency of any Australian airline and rewarding your loyalty as a Qantas Frequent Flyer.

    Thank you for your patience and for your continued support of Qantas.

    Alan Joyce
    CEO Qantas Airways “

  131. Liz45

    @IAN – What “Occupation site”? I don’t live in Sydney if that’s what you mean – I’m in the Illawarra. I’ve been on to the TWU site and sent an email of support, and I’ll receive updates etc from now on. I’ve signed a letter to Joyce re his treatment of workers etc. I receive Newsletters etc from Your Rights at Work; the South Coast Labour Council and many other pro-worker organisations. If there’s any rallies in Wollongong to support these workers I’ll certainly participate – if my spine/knees allow?Damn! I also involve myself in The Greens campaigns and GetUp.

    I know we need to put our bodies where our mouths are! I do at every opportunity – if my body allows? As I said – damn!

    Best wishes!

  132. Frank Campbell

    Like Whistleblower, I received my ration of weasel words from Joyce today- from his private email address: “donotreply@qantasff.qantas.net.au”

    The “ff” stands for “f’kahff”, in drooling brogue.

    Ireland is the very model of the modern corporate state (in the current sense of a state coopted by corporations). Its phony debt-prosperity lasted barely a decade. The Celtic Tiger is now a rug. The Irish are reduced to penury- a fate to which they were long accustomed. Familiarity with poverty made the Irish easy meat for casino capitalism and its new class of managerial thugs. But they made their joyces, and their joyces rogered them royally.

    If an oil company won’t have him, Joyce and his $20 million or so can retire to Ireland, where this sum will buy half of Limerick, including peasantry, and 250 Macdonalds franchises.

  133. Ian

    Good for you Liz. I’m in Perth and our Occupation is a rather stop/start affair so far. West Australians seem to be particularly apathetic. This includes the environmental and social justice NGOs.

    Joyce has done more to advance the cause of the movement in Australia than all these organizations put together I reckon. Its time to connect the dots.

  134. Liz45

    @IAN – I heard a bit of Joyce’s ‘explanations’ before the relevant Committee – he accused the Senators of being like McCarthyism? ( I nearly splattered my coffee everywhere?). My god, talk about the pot. Like Senator Ian McDonald referring the GetUp supporters as Hitler’s Youth support for the Greens? I was yelling at the radio/TV at this point! I’m 66 and a supporter of GetUp since it started – proudly so! (Ignored again – adds weight to the view that women become invisible once we turn 50?).

    Joyce was accused of deliberately keeping the Fed Govt ignorant of his plans. When he was also accused of making many plans about accommodation etc days before his ‘decision’ but allowed people to make bookings up to3 hours after this 5pm Saturday, he coolly announced that it was an ‘oversight’? Arrogance of the man! I wish I could’ve seen it all!

    Poor little buggars in Perth and WA in general, are paying up to $500 pw for somewhere to live? But of course, the 1% aren’t suffering at all are they? The ‘Jack system’ is alive and well!

    Prior to the ’07 Election, Joe Hockey had his staff check out the names and addresses of those who wrote to newspapers objecting to Gerry Harvey’s ‘suggestion’ that overseas workers should be allowed in(in great numbers) and paid about half of Australian workers – he asserted that many Coalition MP’s were in ‘silent agreement’? Many people like yours truly were outraged and sent emails, contacted MP’s and wrote to newspapers in our local area?

    So much for the Coalitions adherence to freedom of speech! I have no doubt, that if they got back in, with the current ‘people’ in both parties, we’d see this and more canvassed, a media campaign and we’d be off and running with WorstChoices in no time – of course it wouldn’t be called that. The Legislation would be secretly submitted on say, Melbourne Cup Day(ring any bells?) and there we’d be – AGAIN? Like before, the lowest paid, women, kids and young workers would suffer the most!

  135. Ian


    It’s only a matter of time before Australia catches up with the rest of the of the world and the fiasco unfolding there. If we had real thinking people in charge of this country we would be taking serious steps to mitigate and deal with the coming crash. (We can’t rely on China for too much longer even though they are attempting to deal with their and the world’s problems in a considered way.)

    Unfortunately it seems to me that we are simply copying from the American’s hymn book with our politicians becoming more intent on scoring points off each other and appealing to the people’s worst instincts rather than their sympathetic side. Ever more we have turned into a selfish society unmoved by the plight of others outside our immediate circle. For Liberal substitute Republican and for Labor, Democrat. Either way we will get more military, more privatizations, less tax and less progressive taxation policies, less concern for the environment and action on climate change and more erosion of our education, social services and health care facilities (unless we pay) and more attacks on unions, (themselves complicit) and workers. And… I nearly forgot… more inequality.

    Allan Joyce and his ilk will continue to take more and more and do their utmost to prevent the rest of us from from getting a fair share of the cake unless the government does something other than pontificate about it. But the blame is ours we vote them into power time after time after time.

    Sorry about the rant, I can’t help myself.

  136. Liz45

    @IAN – Don’t worry about the rant(sorry for not responding earlier – my neck/spine is killing me – been for another CT scan?)

    I agree with all you’ve said. It’s difficult trying to rise above it all? As you’ve probably read my posts earlier, I stopped giving the ALP my primary vote in 1984 – after Bob Hawke gave us the ‘middle finger’ and allowed another uranium mine to start? I was disgusted! My primary vote in the House goes to The Greens (never Coalition?-my arm would fall off if I did?) and usually The Greens in the Senate or another left party/group! I must say though, that the bunch of Coalition members in Opposition now are really beyond the pale! They’re just plain awful, with Abbott’s encouragement. I watched Barnaby Joyce in Question time today and felt embarrassed? What a complete idiot – a dangerous idiot at that?

    I’d like to know what the Qantas Sale Act says about what Allen Joyce wants/plans to do. The little published seems to clearly state that the majority of transactions, whether domestic or international MUST operate in and from Australia – that includes the name! Now, I’d like to know how this affects the name of JetStar for example! Funny how there were no mechanical problems (not like now anyway) until they started using mechanical people in Asia? I support the workers in Australia. I support them wanting to protect their jobs. I wonder how those who support Joyce would like to work for $400 per month in their jobs? No way! OK for others though?

    Imagine the media if the pilots closed down the airline – instead of wearing red ties and doing a vocal PR job on their skills etc to the passengers? Oh yes, they’re not passengers these days are they, they’re customers? Just like recipients of pensions etc? We’re customers too?

    Some Unions are weak I agree, but I still wouldn’t be without them – it’s up to the members to smarten them up! They’re the ones with the power. I owe my Union lots after I was injured at work. Without them, I couldn’t have taken my employer (Dept of Education) to Court for negligence – even workers comp court would’ve been impossible! No money, no power! No justice! (that’s why there’s lots more poor people in jail – particularly black kids?)

    We’ll stay united in our resolve to bring about change! The ‘crash’ is brought about by the greedy bastards who always want more – at our expense! On and on it goes. The only things to change are the names and faces!

    Libs/Lab – Reps/Dems – dumb and dumber these days? Obama is a real disappointment, but then I get angry with myself for thinking he’d be ALLOWED to be any different anyway? If he wins next year I certainly won’t be setting the alarm so I can watch his inauguration? Silly me! Sitting there with tears in my eyes – what a dunce? Or just an optimist? I had high hopes? Each president seems to be worse than the one preceding them? Regardless of Dem or Rep?

  137. Ian


    Hope you soon get rid of all that pain afflicting you.

    I agree with you 100%. As to Obama and the hopes the world had for him including myself, I guess if there is a glimmer of hope people cling to it and magnify it beyond what might be called a rational point. I think the same applies to Labor and their left wing supporters – they keep clinging to the hope that, yes this time it will be different. But it never is. Is it?

    As to Obama I must say even before he took office I realized that he was a big let down. His early appoints said it all. Summers, Gates etc and Hilary, the biggest barefaced liar of them all.

    Ah well.

  138. Liz45

    @IAN – Re Obama? Perhaps it was just wishful thinking on my part.

    Whenever I hear Hillary Clinton speak I go off??? What hypocrisy she waffles on with? The whole US ideology is full of bs. They rant on about democracy while giving/selling billions of dollars of arms to countries run by despots.

    Julia Gillard’s comments re Karzai in Afghanistan almost made me throw up. This is the ‘friend’ who allowed legislation in the Parlt? that gave men the right to rape their wives? Why are we there again? All the raving on this morning about the 3 injured Aussies by a lone gunman? Who gets upset over the thousands of dead/maimed/starving civilians, or the little kids with only one leg etc? I get weary? Not as weary as those poor people – who we kill and terrorise on a daily basis? Not a comment about their pain?

    As you said, ‘Ah well’?

    (thanks for your good wishes – I don’t think there’s a lot that can be done? just keep on exercising so I don’t ‘seize up’? then of course, there’s the pain of exercising? but compared to many, I’m OK! Being involved in all of these issues is a good way of exercising the brain – hopefully it will prevent other issues???)

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