Dear Mr Joyce,
I have just received your Frequent Flyer message in which you “apologise” and then present the media spin and special pleading you have promulgated during the enterprise bargaining period.
The fact is that your desire to break the unions’ position in the bargaining period, your clear antipathy towards the democratic institution of collective bargaining, which is in accordance with international labour standards agreed to by employer, government and union representatives, and to which Australia is a signatory, overrode any common sense. The fact of the matter is that there was no union action that stranded passengers to the degree of your exploitation of a loophole in the Fair Work Act in closing down the airline without notice. Indeed, your action might have been legal but it breached just about every business and democratic ethic.
Your adventurism has done immense damage to the Qantas brand. And your plan to offshore Australia’s international carrier will not only steal Australian jobs but destroy the company.
Clearly, your primary interest here is that of the shareholder, when historically, the company – developed with Australian taxpayer money – has obligations to the Australian community generally. Qantas remains an important element in the business vision Australia presents to the world. Your action on the weekend was a betrayal of all Australians both travellers and in the business world. This company is not merely an independent business identity. It might no longer be a solely government-owned airline but it is bigger than the fickleness of shareholders and overpaid CEOs.
Whatever toxic, hubristic motivation led you to ground the whole fleet without notice, stranding somewhere in the order of 100,000 passengers, you have handed foreign airlines a free pass in the Australian market.
You justify the export to Singapore of OUR airline on the grounds that Qantas’s international operations are losing money. If you can’t make money on international sectors, whatever makes you think you will do better in a vastly more competitive market in Singapore? Anyone who travels from Europe knows that it is relatively easy enough to travel from a European hub to Singapore and that it is rather more difficult to get a seat at short notice from Singapore to Australian destinations, which suggests a capacity problem for Qantas. And whatever happened to cross-subsidisation to ensure that the image of this once great airline – and still one of the few over the years of the global financial crisis, which has each year turned a profit – continues to prosper as Australia’s flag carrier?
You say that “the period of uncertainty and instability for Qantas is over. We are moving forward and putting this dispute behind us.” That is rather dishonest, don’t you think, when you propose breaking up this great airline.
You appear to have not learned the lessons of people like Frank Lorenzo who killed Eastern Airlines in the 1980s. That case provides another lesson: the unions were fiercely protective of their airline and resisted Texas Air Corporation’s stripping of Eastern’s assets. That fierce loyalty to the company is not inconsistent with union members taking protected action to prevent the dismemberment of Qantas, the loss of Australian’s jobs, and the loss of our air carrier. It is only ideology which would prevent you from understanding that.
Comments on this thread, please.