The High Court ruled against Qantas Airways Ltd, stating that the airline took unlawful adverse action against 1,700 ground crew workers by outsourcing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Transport Workers Union brought the case and highlighted workplace safety issues stemming from the outsourcing.
The High Court found that Qantas's outsourcing decision aimed to prevent affected employees from exercising future workplace rights, even though they couldn't do so at the time of the decision. Qantas argued that the law only covered existing workplace rights, but the High Court disagreed.
The Transport Workers Union called for a change in Qantas's board, including a worker representative, in response to the ruling. They also urged the new CEO to apologize to the sacked workers. Safety incidents have been reported among labor-hire workers handling ground operations since the outsourcing, including working while injured, tarmac vehicle accidents, dangerous goods loading without documentation, and firearms mishandling.
The union stressed the need for a fresh start for Qantas and greater worker representation on the board to ensure the airline's survival and improved safety.