The highest court in Australia has turned down a request by Qantas to reverse a decision that found the company guilty of illegally outsourcing 1,700 jobs during the pandemic.
The court upheld the dismissal of employees without proper justification at ten different airports in November 2020 on a unanimous vote.
Qantas expressed regret for the outsourcing, but they insisted that it was a very important financial move amid the Covid crisis.
During a period in which Australia was closing its borders and seeing a precipitous decline in business, the airline laid off baggage handlers and cleaners at airports located throughout the country.
“As we have said from the beginning, we deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected, and we sincerely apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected.”
Even though Qantas had “sound commercial reasons” for the decision, the High Court of Australia found that the company had violated the rights of its employees to “engage in protected industrial action and… bargaining.”
The Transport Workers Union asserted that the finding demonstrated the need to “replace the entire Qantas board with new directors including a worker representative.”
Michael Kaine, the organization’s national secretary, referred to the conduct of the carrier as “the largest sacking found to be illegal” in the history of Australia and stated that workers will now seek compensation through the legal system.
After raking in record profits in the midst of a string of controversies connected to its conduct throughout Covid – including allegations that it sold tickets on hundreds of flights that it had already cancelled – Qantas has been the target of popular wrath in recent weeks. These scandals include allegations that the airline sold tickets on flights that it had already cancelled.
The airline has also been accused of backing a government block on the expansion of Qatar Airways flights to and from Australia. This is a move that opponents claim would have made the market more competitive and drove down fares, thus the airline has been accused of supporting the restriction.
Last week, in the midst of the growing number of scandals involving Qantas, the company’s longtime CEO, Alan Joyce, made the announcement that he would be leaving his position early.
His successor, Vanessa Hudson, will take the helm of the airline for the first time ever, and she has pledged to repair the company’s battered reputation.