Qantas Rejects Union Claims

Sydney, 03 March 2010

Qantas today, rejected union claims that the airline had discriminated against a group of temporary female workers employed until recently in the airline's Sydney airport operations.

Qantas Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs, Mr David Epstein, said it was the airline's obligation to always protect the jobs of its permanent workforce and this is what was done.

"We have acted within the letter and spirit of the relevant industrial agreement and met all of our obligations to this group at all times," Mr Epstein said.

"Qantas had employed the group, comprising women and men, on temporary fixed term contracts in late 2008/early 2009 to provide aircraft cleaning services in Sydney.

"However the loss of a third party aircraft cleaning and ground handling contract with another airline meant our labour needs were reduced and it was not possible to retain these staff. This, unfortunately, is the reality of the airline business.

"The employee's work was valued and, had the situation been different, permanent employment may have been an option.

"More than 40 per cent of Qantas employees are women, a figure that immediately throws into question any claim that the company discriminates on the basis of gender.

"The TWU seem happy to miss this point and are unfairly using the Qantas brand to bolster an industrial campaign, knowing full well that Qantas is a leading employer of Australian women and is committed to providing opportunities for women and a workplace free of discrimination."

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (4031)