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Compensation looms for sacked Qantas workers

written by Naomi Neilson | March 14, 2024
Jake Nelson shot these Qantas 737-800s lined up at Melbourne Airport.

Hundreds of illegally outsourced Qantas workers will return to court for compensation hearings.

The Federal Court will begin its compensation hearings from early next week, seven months after Qantas failed to overturn the court’s original finding that it illegally fired 1,700 ground staff in 2020.

In upholding the Federal Court’s decision, the High Court’s full bench rejected Qantas’ submissions that the Fair Work Act could not be applied to the ground staff at the time they were terminated.

The Federal Court is expected to hear three test cases to determine the appropriate compensation.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the workers have been through “unimaginable turmoil”.

“The unprecedented scale of this compensation case reflects the enormity of Qantas’ wrongdoing,” Kaine said.

Kaine added Qantas maintains it has “done nothing wrong”.

“The conduct of Qantas shows why we need independent oversight of aviation through a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to restore good, secure jobs and quality standards.”

The compensation hearings will begin just a week after the NSW District Court fined Qantas for unlawfully standing down health and safety representative, Theo Seremetidis.

Judge David Russell said the decision to stand down Seremetidis was a “shameful” and “deliberate” move to advance its interests.

“The penalty must reflect the need for specific deterrence,” Judge Russell said.

“Qantas is still conducting a business. Its operations involve cleaning and maintenance of aircraft flown for commercial purposes, and the continuing engagement of many workers.”

Qantas was handed a $250,000 fine and ordered to pay Seremetidis $6,000 for economic loss and $15,000 for non-economic loss.

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