In the wake of COVID-19, Qantas Airways has indicated that it will seek to terminate its existing contract conditions with its long-haul cabin crew employees.
The airline has applied to Australia’s Fair Work Commission to terminate the agreement, claiming that the current terms are outdated and that it will allow the airline to move toward a more flexible working style and streamline the cabin crew rostering procedure.
Long-haul cabin crew personnel are currently restricted to operating on specific aircraft models under current employment terms.
International Qantas Airways crews are only allowed to work on Airbus A330 or A380 planes or Boeing 787 planes. At the moment, this means that 20% of the 2,500 flight attendants can only work on a single type of plane. Qantas wants all long-haul crew members to be able to work on all three aircraft types.
Qantas CEO Andrew David told local media on January 20, 2022 that without these reforms, the airline will be unable to effectively recover from the epidemic.
“The challenges facing airlines are pretty obvious and, even though we’re flying internationally again, it’s clear that we have to operate in a more agile and flexible way than we did pre-COVID to recover. […] We’re seeking termination because we can’t effectively run our business without the rostering changes, we desperately need to properly restart our international network in a post-COVID world,” David told the Australian Financial Review.
The Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) announced the results of a referendum held in December 2021, which found that 97 percent of long-haul cabin crew members were opposed to the proposed contract modifications.
Cabin crew issues, according to the group, include a two-year compensation freeze followed by a doubled number of standby hours.
“These were the heroes who had to bring stranded Australians back during COVID-19, and this is how the firm repays them for using their workplace rights to vote down the new deal,” FAAA secretary Teri O’Toole said.