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QANTAS: New CEO Vanessa Hudson ordered to mediation with Transport Workers Union over sacked ground handlers

QANTAS: New CEO Vanessa Hudson ordered to mediation with Transport Workers Union over sacked ground handlers

Federal Court judge Michael Lee has ordered. on the failure of the Qantas appeal to the High Court of Australia, that Vanessa Hudson, CEO of Qantas, and Michael Kaine, head of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), meet face to face to negotiate compensation for the 1700 illegally sacked workers.

Qantas and TWU lawyers were back in the Federal Court this morning (Wednesday, 20 September 2023). Michael Lee, the Federal Court judge who made the judgement that 1700 Qantas ground workers were illegally sacked during the pandemic has ruled that compensation and penalties be negotiated from next Monday.

A week ago, the High Court unanimously dismissed the Qantas appeal against the judgement.

“I want the chief executive officer to be present, together with the person leading the union to be there. That, in my view, like the many mediations that I’ve been involved in over many, many years, is appropriate in escalating it to an appropriate level to maximise the prospects of settlement.”

Federal Court judge Michael Lee

Counsel for Qantas sought to have CEO Vaness Hudson, the successor to Alan Joyce excused from the direct negotiations, but Judge Lee was having nothing of it.

a group of men working on a conveyor belt
Reputed mishandling of Qantas luggage by Swissport baggage handlers [TikTok]

TWU and Qantas still don’t see eye-to-eye

It’s no surprise that the two parties don’t agree. Qantas, which has already proposed a settlement, wants to negotiate the the compensation and penalty for the airline together, while the TWU wants them considered separately. The union does not want any perception that one is traded off against the other.

The TWU wants it all out in the open, too. They want it to be transparent for the 1700 sacked workers involved. They have proposed that a small number of worker delegates also attend the negotiations with Qantas, according to the SMH.

Sydney Airpot T3, Qantas luggage collection [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
Sydney Airpot T3, Qantas luggage collection [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

This needs to be done as quickly as possible so that affected workers don’t have to wait longer for compensation. Its in the interests of Qantas, too, to get this out of the press and off the controversy table. Their plate is far too crowded. They need to deal with speculation of slot hoarding, selling cancelled flights, and lobbying government to refuse Qatar’s more flights application.

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