Labor Senator Tony Sheldon has accused Qantas boss Alan Joyce of “hoarding all the bananas” in an ongoing attack on the airline’s employees, sensationally calling for the high-profile chief executive to be sacked amid renewed industrial action.
The former top Transport Workers Union official launched another scathing attack on the airline’s leadership and Mr Joyce’s opposition to Labor’s new industrial relations reforms.
Mr. Joyce has come under fire for the company’s proposal to move 1,300 workers off the existing enterprise bargaining agreement and onto individual contracts, which Senator Sheldon said on Thursday would threaten safety.
“When you get experienced people and you throw them out of the business in critical safety areas, then you’re putting the safety of the airline at risk,” Senator Sheldon told Sky News Australia’s Laura Jayes.
“They’re saying if you don’t turn around and accept the agreement then we’re going to turn around and put you back on the award.
“Agreed negotiations over many decades that have been openly agreed to are now thrown out of the door and you can receive a 50 to 60 per cent wage cut unless you accept the 20 or 40 per cent wage cut now.”
Senator Sheldon repeated his criticism of the high-profile executive, accusing him of leading the charge by “corporate gorillas” against the industrial relations bill.
He also said that while the airline had posted record profits and was targeting its employees, ordinary Australians were suffering from exorbitant airfares.
“They’re not only gouging from the Australian community but there are also gouging from their own workforce,” the Labor Senator added.
“They (the business community) have got Alan Joyce spearheading that attack (on multi-employer bargaining), it’s just disgusting.
“Employers like Qantas are leading the charge and leading the big corporations the big gorillas to fight back to say that middle incomes shouldn’t be allowed across the economy and to improve.”
Senator Sheldon spared Qantas employees from his attack, labeling the airline a “wonderful company” with a “wonderful workforce”.
But he said the more than 20,000 employees and the flying community were being “let down by this leadership”.
When asked if Mr. Joyce should be sacked or resign, Senator Sheldon said it was “quite clear” the company needed a change.
“We’ve got an airline that’s got an older fleet, they’re not reinvesting, they’re turning around and doing share buybacks,” he said.
“They’re paying themselves executive salary increases substantially, and then also doing over the Australian community.”
Qantas is coming under fire from multiple fronts with Senator Sheldon leading a growing campaign against price gouging, while on the industrial relations front, the airline looks set to experience further strikes.
Almost 100 percent of the airline’s domestic cabin crew – which totals 1,200 workers – voted on Wednesday night to pursue industrial action over pay.
The flight attendants have been offered a new employment agreement which will see their shifts increase from 9.5 hours to 12 hours.
While Qantas has argued that it is satisfying wage concerns by offering employees a 3 percent annual pay rise.
The union representing cabin crew staff – the Flight Attendants Association of Australia – has said there was no imminent plan for industrial action as it continued to urge the company to return to the negotiating table despite Wednesday night’s vote.