Federal Court orders Qantas CEO into mediation over sacked workers compensation

A Qantas Boeing 737 parked at the terminal.
DaHuzyBru, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Australian Federal Court has directed incoming Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Vanessa Hudson to participate in mediation proceedings in order to settle compensation claims after the illegal outsourcing of 1700 ground handling positions.

Mediation proceedings

On Wednesday this week, legal counsel for both parties – Qantas and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), who represented workers dismissed by the airline – indicated that they were open to participating in a mediation process.

The directive by the federal court judge comes as the latest event in what has been a protracted legal battle to gain compensation for the dismissed Qantas workers.

The Federal Court had originally ruled in July 2021 that Qantas decision to outsource ground handling positions to third-party providers was in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009.

The Court found that the action was driven in part by the airline Group’s intent to avoid industrial action by its dismissed employees.

The matter was then further draw out when the Qantas Group elected to challenge the Federal Court ruling by appealing the decision to the High Court.


A Qantas Boeing 737 parked at Melbourne Airport.
Robert Frola (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Last week’s High Court ruling

The Group’s attempt to have the adverse ruling overturned was dealt a severe body blow last week, when the High Court upheld the July 2021 ruling made by the lower court.

In essence, this meant the end of the line for any Qantas legal attempt to overturn the ruling; opening the way to mass compensation claims by sacked ground workers who were subsequently replaced by outsourced labour.

Transport Workers’ Union national secretary, Michael Kaine commented last week on the High Court decision to uphold the finding that Qantas had acted unlawfully, saying:

“It has been three years and 20 days since Alan Joyce first announced the decision to outsource these workers, and they have not stopped fighting for a moment to ensure justice was served. The final act of this Board should be to strip Alan Joyce of his bonuses and follow him out the door.”

“The Joyce regime has been toppled, but the airline cannot achieve the reset necessary for its survival under the same Board that resided over the largest case of illegal sackings in Australian corporate history. Richard Goyder cannot make it through another day as chair.”

Qantas Group FY23 statement

The Group released its FY23 financial statement this week, with Chairman Richard Goyder issuing a covering statement after the recent turmoil.

Mr Goyder disclosed earnings for the year for outgoing CEO Alan Joyce of $21.4 million; noting that up to $14.4 million may be subject to clawback by the Board if significant misconduct is found.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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