Let QANTAS go to Asia – that’s what they want – plenty of airlines will fly our domestic routes

The QANTAS announcement of grounding and lockout yesterday was one of those watershed events – you just know things will not be the same again – I just do not believe the pieces can be put back together again. For months the unions have been twisting the QANTAS tail with their escalating disruptive tactics.

Late last week as our Prime Minister went to CHOGM she was asked about intervening in the dispute and she said “..no”. How could she tell her union mates to try and settle with the big bad capitalist QANTAS ?

Of course it is obvious now this decision must have been planned for weeks – deliberately pulled on the weekend QANTAS was flying many of the CHOGM leaders home. How excruciatingly embarassing for our Govt – plus Minister Albanese muddling around on National TV on a Saturday to answer questions that he had no answers to – mumbling about “acting like adults”.

This intensifying union action can be traced to the Rudd/Gillard Labor Fair Work laws which unwound the IR laws from the Howard years – well now the nation will pay the price.

I think it is constructive to think back a decade to the collapse of ANSETT – clearly it is not in our national interest to rely too heavily on one strike prone and problem prone carrier. A few weeks ago QANTAS announced plans to relocate to Asia – we should say bon-voyage mates – good luck with your plans for a more profitable QANTAS in Asia – nice knowing you. This weekend the Govt should be talking with a range of well known international carriers about increasing competition servicing our domestic routes – Air NZ, Singapore, Emirates, Etihad – come to mind.

Interested to hear what readers think.

7 thoughts on “Let QANTAS go to Asia – that’s what they want – plenty of airlines will fly our domestic routes”

  1. The reason that Qantas is in the position that it is , is because the government has allowed low paying airline open slather like you suggest.
    They have no idea of how a business runs.
    Dick Smith said this on abc tv,” I would have closed the international side of qantas 3 years ago when the government allowed competing airlines with lower costs to flood Australia. You cant compete in this kind of environment”.
    We are in an resource boom at the moment. But what happens when this boom is over?
    Our government is sending billions of dollars overseas for developing countries, why aren’t they developing this country!!
    Wake up Australia, we are being so badly managed by this union run government!!!

  2. I agree with joyful that the unions have been irresponsible in this case – I remember the Ansett dispute in I think 1989 or thereabouts and that ended in no benefit to the pilots concerned, indeed many of them had to go overseas to get piloting jobs
    Steve Kates has a good article in Quadrant Online www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2011/10/the-battle-of-qantas
    I certainly agree with this sentiment he expresses

    Only governments so ideologically blinded by their own shallow understanding of how things actually work set up structures based on the opposite premise, that it is workers who are more likely to need protections from employers who, as in some Marxist fantasy, are seen merely as exploiters of the working class. It is only the workers, in their view, who are vulnerable in such a relationship, with all of the cards in the hands of the owners of business.

    and this

    The Fair Work Act will have to go. It is a colossal failure even in an economy with a private sector that is almost entirely flat on its back. Union activity across industry is already at a high and demoralising level. Between the threat of rent resources tax and the changes in the industrial relations system, even an industry that by nature cannot shift off shore is nevertheless starting to abandon Australia.

    But the Qantas dispute will be iconic. With one of the oldest and certainly one of the most internationally recognised Australian brand names under threat by a band of know-nothing unions, we shall see where we are heading.

    The one thing no one should count on is some kind of good sense and fair play by the unions involved. It will come down to what they think they can get away with and nothing else. Here you see the true selfishness and greed of a class who knows nothing other than its own self interest. The public be damned is the only principle unions have ever known.

  3. Without backing the Unions I must say that they have a place in industry.
    The backlash against Work choices was caused by the rank and file thinking that it was unfair, although the Union Movement did spend much time and money pushing this line to reinforce this attitude. The average union member wants “protection” against exploitation, a reasonable wage and some security of employment. The Company management has to respond to these wishes, and in return union militancy drops.

    I worked for a company with about 30% unionisation – until they were taken over. The first act of the (american) bosses was to make 25% of the workers redundant. Then they changed work practices so many of the long time employees felt demoted and not wanted. Within 3 months 99% of the workers were in the union. The end result was no increase in productivity, and an increase in staff turnover. It went from 5-6% to nearer 20%.

    The new”rules” were no different from those that staff members had put up with for 20 years, but they also started to react and lose enthusiasm, to which the new management responded by sackings and bringing in highly paid, but useless, nongs. I was glad to be offered redundancy by one of the newcomers (who was good but soon left himself) but I was wrong about the likely “shelf life”, as it took 7 years before the whole thing unravelled. They are now much smaller, lower turnover, and are certainly unprofitable, so the US Co. hasn’t made any return on investment. What great management!

    When a management decides to “downsize”, “de-skill” or “reduce expenses” they should (but never do) consider the likely consequences. The other problem has always been the leadership of various Unions when they start pushing for things that their membership haven’t asked for. Right now, most Unions are run by people who have never worked on the shop floor, but are there filling in time between graduation from Uni and getting a safe seat in parliament. Once there (include Julia) they change the law to benefit their mates.

    When the two attitudes clash, the result is an unholy mess. QANTAS will have to go to Asia to survive (if it does). But no-one will care if it doesn’t.

  4. 1989 saw the six months long “pilots strike” Val – I think that affected the two major domestic carriers – Ansett and Australian Airlines (Govt). Then in 2002 Ansett collapsed leaving QANTAS as the sole major domestic carrier.
    A bit more history – in late 2006 a group of US investors “Airline Partners Australia” bid $5.60 for QANTAS –
    Qantas 5 yr share price
    and the clever board knocked the offer back. Look at the 5 year share price chart for QAN. How lucky is APA that they missed the QAN boat in 2007. QANTAS has 2.265Bn shares issued – so at Fridays close of $1.545 the market capitalisation was a tick under $3.5Bn. So shareholders have lost something like $9Bn since the takeover offer was knocked back in 2007.
    IMHO this fairytale concept of a prosperous “National Carrier” with unions getting the sort of pay and conditions they have become accustomed to expect for themselves – that is doomed now if it ever was alive post 2008.
    They will probably be ordered to fly again – and where can that lead.
    I think the Leprechaun has a pretty solid plan to relocate in Asia and build a premium brand there.

  5. Some facts from an insider.

    First of all Joyful, Dick Smith is the last person to listen to, he is uninformed and his record in aviation administration is pathetic,this is being kind.

    As far as the current dispute goes you have to remember there are 3 unions involved. This is because it is these unions enterprise bargaining agreements that are due for renewal. They are separate and have taken different action. I will talk about the pilots union only because I have first hand knowledge in this area.

    This pilots union is far from militant…they have not taken industrial action since 1966.

    The action they have taken in this dispute is to make a short positive inflight announcement ( saying how proud they were of qantas )and to wear red ties and that’s it! hardly militant

    The action by pilots has not cost qantas one cent…repeat..NOT ONE CENT!

    The action by pilots has not delayed a single passenger or grounded any aircraft. In fact pilots bent over backwards to help qantas and passengers disrupted by other unions stop work meetings.

    So the reaction from Alan Joyce is to stand down without pay all those pilots. Do you think that is reasonable and proportionate to very mild non disruptive action by the pilots? Qantas has also failed to show at several meetings before Fair Work Aust, simply saying there is no point because they will not negotiate on several matters. This is speculation but most insiders think Alan Joyce wants these disruptions as part of a larger plan.

    As regards to the overall direction of qantas…..

    the biggest problem in the last 10 years is not unions but very poor management decisions regarding aircraft aquisition, route structure and schedule, inflight product and employee relations. I could write volumes here on these things but as an example: the failure of qantas to modernise its fleet (old 747s and 767s) is now costing around 500 million (thats right half a billion) a year in extra fuel. These older aircraft require much more maintainence and turn passengers off with unreliable and outdated inflight entertainment systems.

    The pilots pay is insignificant but in any case they are paid about average compared to their their competitors. By the way, qantas already has pilots based overseas on lower rates and conditions…did you know that. Most cabin crew are on fairly low pay with most of the older crew on better pay gone or made redundant. The new award for aussie based crew is so bad the average lenghth of service is now one and a half years ( this award has been running 4 years) Add to this low paying basings in NZ and the UK means qantas pays no more (and generally less) than most airlines for crew. Did you know qantas had these overseas cabin crew basings and that you can get on a qantas flight with no australian crew at all?
    As a matter of fact the only area where qantas pays overs is ….. in management!
    Alan Joyce has a package worth 5 million a year… the CEOs of cathay pacific, singapore airlines and british airways all get a package of around 2 mill or less. Geoff Dixon got even more as ceo of qantas and was getting more personally than the CEOs of the 4 biggest airlines in the world combined! In the last five years qantas CEOs(dixon and joyce) have received 55 million as the share price has plummeted.

    I think I’ve gone on too long but there is much more if you want to go beyond the spin from Joyce as to what’s really happening in qantas. I haven’t even touched on schedules, product, destinations, employee engagement, engineering and of course subsidiary and low cost carrier expansion.

    So do you still think it is as simple as “bloody unions”
    Remember nearly every pilot and engineer in qantas will be there long after joyce has moved on and has more interest in the long term future of qantas than joyce. They know they have to be competitive to survive.


  6. I pretty much concur with Warwick.

    Bad luck for the Qantas workers, but they will be in a better situation than most of the 100,000s of Australian workers whose jobs have dissapeared due to globalization.

    This has the potential to bring down the Labor government, with the TWU owning several MPs.

    The end result will likely be the Labor government will do what it usually does, throw taxpayers money around, effectively bribing all parties. Which will keep QANTAS in Australia for another year or two.

  7. If Qantas managers, work conditions and salary packages are so bad (I havent seen much comment on these)for the Qantas ‘workers’ why dont they leave or apply for jobs with other companies, airlines or other industries?
    There has been ongoing industrial action at Qantas for many months/years. Australia’s unemployment rate is not much higher than 5%, huge demand for workers in our mining industry and the press photos of generally young and fit baggage handlers give the appearance that these poor hard workers may be able to retrain or relocate to handle other jobs …. Just a thought.
    God forbid but maybe our ‘labour’ government could help with retraining or relocation? perhaps nice comfy green jobs inspecting CO2 emmissions in our homes.

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