The National branches of the numerous unions which have members working at Qantas, commonly called the Qantas Unions, have continued to meet on a regular basis over the past few months with the assistance of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). We are intent on breaking the ‘Record Results Bonus’ issue wide open and having the cash component of your bonus paid immediately.

All of the Qantas Unions believe that it is illegal to withhold the cash component of your bonus, until such time as a new enterprise agreement is approved by the Fair Work Commission whilst making sure that you don’t exercise your workplace rights to take protected industrial action, not vote in favour of the new EA, etc. The discussion held at the last meeting of Qantas Unions centered on whether or not the conditions placed on the cash component of your bonus adversely impacted on members substantially enough as to make legal action possible.

Qantas Unions have determined that there may well be sufficient grounds for unions to present a legal argument of discrimination and adverse action based on the fact that the cash bonus has already been paid to all employees who are not covered by an Enterprise Agreement (EA) and you are being treated differently as a result of having excercised a workplace right to bargain collectively for an EA in the past.

Professionals Australia, the union cvering Professional Engineers at Qantas, have written to Qantas on behalf of their members claiming that Qantas has discriminated against their members under the Fair Work Act 2010 on the basis that they are being treated less favourably than those employees who do not have an EA and who have subsequently received payment immediately.

The less favourable treatment which is being claimed to be discriminatory comes as a result of:

  • the bonus payment being made later, at the same value (so it will be worth less due to inflation); and
  • the contingent basis of the bonus payment, being that you must vote up your next EA and cause no harm to Qantas in the process; and
  • current employees not receiving the bonus if they are not employed when the new EA is approved; and
  • those same conditions have not been applied to those employees without an EA.

In addition, Professionals Australia are claiming that Qantas have engaged in adverse action against those with an EA in place based on the fact that those covered by an EA have a workplace right to negotiate an EA and should they propose to exercise a workplace right during bargaining then Qantas’ conditions on the bonus payment will prevent employees covered by that EA from receiving the bonus payment.

The legislation prohibits adverse action being taken against an employee based on the fact that the EA provides benefits to employees and entitles members of Unions to initiate, or participate in, various forms of action during the negotiation of a new EA yet Qantas are seeking to curtail these rights by way of witholding the cash component of the bonus.

The letter sent a couple of days ago seeks to set the precedence by which all employees at Qantas will receive their bonus payments.

The Unions, our members and all employees know that Qantas is in the wrong with this bonus issue.  This legal argument may give Qantas the push they need to accept that what they are doing undermines the bargaining process and curtails the rights of employees to bargain collectively to achieve results. The conditions place on this bonus payment undermine the entire enterprise bargaining system, nation-wide, and the ASU and our comrades at the other Qantas Unions will continue to fight it. The good news is that the letter is just the first step.  Qantas can choose to accept the claims being made and pay the bonus or Qantas Unions will begin to ramp up the legal action in the new year.

For further information please contact:
ASU Organiser Aaron De La Torre | 0427 813 821 | adelatorre@asuvictas.com.au

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