Unions want answers from Qantas
Qantas boss Alan Joyce and his senior executives will come under pressure from union leaders to spell out the extent of government help they are seeking and the parts of the business to be hit hardest by job cuts.
Management will meet unions representing the bulk of the airline's 33,000-strong workforce on Wednesday at its Sydney headquarters.
The talks come amid growing speculation about whether the federal government will grant financial help to Qantas. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has backed lifting foreign-ownership restrictions but faces concerns from within the Coalition that a debt guarantee or so-called letter of comfort will set a dangerous precedent.
The focus of union leaders at the meeting will be to extract details about the areas most affected by the company's decision to axe at least 1000 jobs over the next year.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said it wanted to ensure "every reasonable option is explored to reduce any job losses". "What we won't accept is any attempt to undermine decent, well-paid, secure local jobs, and that includes moving jobs offshore," he said.
Mr Oliver has previously called on the government to ensure a "level playing field" for Qantas. But the ACTU is opposed to a relaxation of the Qantas Sale Act, which forces the airline to maintain the bulk of its operations in Australia.
Australian Services Union assistant secretary Linda White said workers wanted more detail about the job cuts and the airline's longer-term intentions.
Qantas revealed plans this month to axe at least 1000 jobs and strip out an extra $2 billion in costs over the next three years. But it is yet to say which parts of the business will bear the brunt of the cuts.
The Transport Workers Union is calling on the government to consider measures such as tax changes to help create a "fairer playing field", instead of removing the Qantas Sale Act. The changes suggested include the ability for airlines to write off assets more quickly, thereby reducing tax burdens.
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