Qantas Says No 'Casualisation' of Workforce

SYDNEY, 26 August 2003

The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Geoff Dixon, said at a meeting with Unions today that Qantas had no intention to "casualise" its workforce.

Mr Dixon said that recent claims to the contrary were incorrect.

"Casual and labour hire numbers at Qantas are planned to increase from the current level of four per cent to only about eight per cent in two or three years time," Mr Dixon said.

"This is less than one third the Australian average of 27 per cent of casual workers."

Mr Dixon said the balance of the non full time workforce would continue to be permanent part-time employees. The number of permanent part time workers was expected to grow from the current level of 11 per cent to up to 17 per cent in two or three years time. "Many Qantas employees, such as flight attendants, want to work part time for personal reasons," Mr Dixon said.

"As I said last week, this means that flexible forms of employment will increase from 15 per cent to between 20 and 25 per cent of the Qantas workforce over the next to two or three years."

Mr Dixon also stressed that:

* the increase in part-time, casual and labour hire workers would not affect the full time jobs of current employees. The increase would be achieved as the company grew and as full time employees chose to leave the company or convert to part time employment;

* Qantas needed more flexible workforce arrangements to address peaks and troughs of activity and the external shocks that regularly hit the aviation industry.

Mr Dixon said Qantas was one of the largest employers of Australians, with 33,900 full time equivalent employees at 30 June 2003, and was one of the few airlines in the world currently providing pay increases.

"If we are to continue this record and remain a major employer of Australians, we must improve our flexibility, productivity and profitability," he said.

Mr Dixon told the Unions he wanted to work constructively with them to achieve these goals.

Other major issues discussed at today's meeting included:

* the short term and long term challenges facing Qantas and the strategies Qantas was implementing to address them, such as the reorganisation of the company into at least eight internal businesses and the Sustainable Future program to reduce costs by $1 billion over the next two years;

* the investigation into the feasibility of a no frills domestic carrier. Mr Dixon said this was aimed at meeting a potential market opportunity and was not being undertaken for industrial relations reasons;

* the company's ongoing investment in new aircraft, aircraft enhancements, product and service.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (2948)