'We want our jobs back', say ex-Qantas workers

WE WANT TO WORK: Ex-Qantas workers with MLC Mark Buttigieg (from left) Anne Guirguis(left), Ivan Mora, and Peter Cullan. Photo: John Veage.

WE WANT TO WORK: Ex-Qantas workers with MLC Mark Buttigieg (from left) Anne Guirguis(left), Ivan Mora, and Peter Cullan. Photo: John Veage.

"We just want our jobs back."

That's the message ex-Qantas workers, Anne Guirguis, Ivan Mora and Peter Cullen, all from south Sydney, want to give to CEO Alan Joyce.

The Federal Court found the aviation giant's decision to dump ground staff and engage sub-contractors may have been partly driven by a desire to prevent future industrial action because of Qantas' highly unionised workforce.

Qantas has vowed to appeal the court ruling that its decision to outsource thousands of jobs was unlawful, saying it "fundamentally disagrees" with the decision.

Ex-workers like Ms Guirguis, Mr Mora and Mr Cullen say Qantas is not displaying 'the spirit of Australia' by refusing to rehire workers.

Ms Guirguis and Mr Mora say after a lifetime of working at Qantas, they were shocked to be sacked by email earlier this year.

"It was shocking and distressing to be sacked by email, then to have us replaced by workers from a foreign-owned company added insult to injury," they said.

"Jobkeeper was supposed to keep workers connected to the employer. That's one of the big selling points the federal government said about it.

"We have worked for Qantas for most of our working life; we don't know how to do anything else."


Mr Mora said while on Jobkeeper, no one from Qantas ever contacted him to check on his welfare.

"I had zero communications with Qantas during that time. They never talked to me at all, never called to see how I was, never even offered me some casual shifts, nothing," he said.

Ms Guirguis and Mr Mora say they were issued a termination of employment notice via email on January 25 2021, and the next day their Jobkeeper payments stopped.

Mr Cullen said he was given his termination and redundancy notification on February 8 and then his Jobkeeper payments ended on the 16th.

He says he holds no hope of being re-employed by Qantas.

"I never asked to go, I would love my job back, 90 per cent of my time at Qantas was good, but I think our jobs are gone, despite the court win," he said.

"It is not as if the jobs aren't there, they are, just someone cheaper has taken them.

"Unlike Anne and Ivan, I was given some irregular shifts during the last year. But, as they said, I thought the entire idea of Jobkeeper was to keep us connected to our employer.

"In all of our cases, it hasn't kept us connected to our employer at all.

"I was terminated via email with eight days notice after 19 years of loyal service to the company."

Labor MLC Mark Buttigieg said it was galling that Qantas received millions of dollars in taxpayers money but still sacked its workers.

"The company that Qantas hired to provide workers to replace these guys made its workers work split shifts so they didn't have enough time to go home," he said.

"They were sleeping in airport lounges between shifts. They had all sorts of aircraft presentation and safety issues, and the workers were treated appallingly and at one point paid below award wages.

"So Qantas is an Aussie company subsidised by the taxpayer to undercut safe and well paying full-time jobs.

"Back in the '80s and '90s, Qantas had a family culture. If you were employed there, you were treated as a member of a family by the company. Sadly, over the last few years, it has become a numbers game, and all that human element has been excised from the company.

"What has happened to Anne, Ivan and Peter and all the others, the way they are being treated, it is a function of a company that doesn't care about its employees anymore.

"It only cares about the bottom line. That lack of human empathy element for a national carrier that has been given a billion dollars of taxpayers money is pretty poor."

Qantas was contacted for a reply to the comments of its ex-workers but did not respond.

This story 'We just want our jobs back': ex-Qantas employees first appeared on St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.