Qantas CEO to apologise to 1700 workers illegally sacked

The new Qantas chief executive will start off her tenure with a direct apology to the nearly 1700 workers her company illegally sacked during the pandemic.

Transport Workers Union secretary Michael Kaine revealed the upcoming apology from new boss Vanessa Hudson in an interview with 2GB, saying he had taken a phone call from Ms Hudson on Monday.

“She was keen to acknowledge the hurt the workers had been through,” he said.

“She apologised for it, she said she would be willing to apologise directly to those workers in the future and we’ll certainly hold her to that.

Camera IconFormer Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce (left) with new chief executive Vanessa Hudson. Ms Hudson takes over during a turbulent time for the iconic Australian company. NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles Credit: News Corp Australia

“It’s got to be more than words, we have got to have culture change. We’ve got to figure out how we bring good, secure jobs back into aviation.”

The High Court ruled 7-0 last week that Qantas illegally sacked 1683 baggage handlers and cleaners in 2020.

The company outsourced the jobs as the aviation behemoth confronted a sharp drop-off in business.

Mr Kaine ripped into Qantas management and called on the entire board to be “spilt”, including board chairman Richard Goyder.

“Alan Joyce has abandoned ship, he has headed to the emergency exit with $24m under his wing,” Mr Kaine said.

“His management team is responsible for the largest sacking, illegal sacking of Australian workers in corporate history.”

Camera IconQantas workers, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine, ACTU secretary Sally McManus and senator Tony Sheldon hold a press conference at the High Court in Canberra after the court ruled Qantas had illegally sacked nearly 1700 workers in 2020. Mr Kaine says the company’s culture is in crisis and the entire board needs to be replaced. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“The people responsible for holding management to account are the board and the board has got to go.”

A senate inquiry looking into the sacking and also the government’s decision to deny Qatar Airways an entry into Australia kicks off on Tuesday.

Mr Kaine said Qantas was in “crisis” and the only way to rebuild the iconic company was to take a “broom through the place.”

Mr Kaine also called for an independent body to make decisions in the aviation space to guard the community from the “profit motive” of aviation chief executives.

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