LAW FIRM Maurice Blackburn Lawyers filed a test case for the Transport Workers Union (TWU) in the Federal Court on December 9, 2020, seeking to overturn Qantas’s decision to outsource 2,000 workers. They claim the decision is unlawful under the Fair Work Act.
The case follows Qantas’s recent announcement that it was outsourcing 2,000 ground staff and replacing them with what the TWU described as "insecure labour hire workers".
Maurice Blackburn principal Josh Bornstein, who is acting for the TWU, said the case would test whether Qantas’s recent actions in sacking workers and outsourcing their jobs was unlawful.
“This legal challenge will put outsourcing on trial,” Mr Bornstein said.
“If Qantas can replace thousands of its employees with cheaper, insecure labour hire employees then this can happen to any other employee in any Australian workplace.
“This important test case for the TWU will determine whether Qantas’s decision to sack 2,000 workers to outsource these jobs breaches workplace laws.
“The Fair Work Act makes clear that you can’t sack employees because they are entitled to collectively bargained employment conditions. By outsourcing this work, Qantas is seeking to avoid collective bargaining under the Fair Work Act," he said.
“If the outsourcing proceeds, Qantas will no longer have to negotiate with the workers who perform the work. Instead Qantas will be able to unilaterally impose a price for the services of outsourced workers, and those outsourced workers will not be allowed to bargain with Qantas under current IR laws.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the plight of insecure labour hire and outsourced workers: they aren’t paid properly, they work in unsafe conditions and they are forced to scrounge a living working at multiple jobs. Qantas has decided to pour petrol onto that fire,” Mr Bornstein said.
“This decision is bad for workers, customers and the Australian economy. More low wage, insecure jobs means less spending and more damage to a fragile economy. The only beneficiaries are big shareholders and Qantas executives,” he said.