Australia Qantas flags stand-downs if state lockdowns drag on

06:00  22 july  2021
06:00  22 july  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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This is what Qantas 's decision to stand down staff could mean for casual, part-time and permanent employees of other companies. Employees have been told in an email that they can seek alternative employment and still keep their jobs, and can also access unemployment benefits. It's unclear if this will be the case for other employees who may be stood down by other organisations. But Fair Work says it is possible for an employee to take paid or unpaid leave (for example, annual leave) during all or part of a period in which they would otherwise be stood down .

Qantas argues "external events" forced them to stand down 450 maintenance engineers in mid-March because of coronavirus as the airline is taken to court by workers challenging the move. Key points: Two-thirds of Qantas 's workforce were stood down in mid-March. The barrister representing Qantas says "external events" caused a stoppage of work. Qantas argues it can stand down workers who can't be "usefully employed".

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has warned staff may be stood down if lockdowns continue for too long. © Reuters Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has warned staff may be stood down if lockdowns continue for too long.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has warned he may have to stand down staff without pay if state coronavirus lockdowns drag on after the national carrier was forced to slash domestic flights to less than half their normal rate.

The airline had already cut back its flights this month to 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels as a result of the NSW lockdown, compared to 90 per cent before the most recent round of lockdowns. The South Australian and Victorian shutdowns have now pushed that figure below 40 per cent.

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Qantas has stood down thousands of staff in one the flying kangaroo's darkest days. Image: Getty. Qantas (QAN.AX) will ground all international flights and stand down the majority of its 30,000 employees until the end of May at the earliest as the carrier battles Covid-19’s devastating effects. “Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and what flights there are operate much less than half full.” CAPA said governments around the world need to cooperate to save the aviation industry. Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter.

It follows Qantas standing down 20,000 staff , or two-thirds of the total workforce, and starting to lay off 6000 more as part of its three-year COVID-19 recovery plan. Its new owners, Bain Capital, had flagged a slimmed- down airline partly by cutting 3000 staff, or about a third of its workforce. Virgin confirmed on Tuesday an additional 150 jobs at its head and corporate office were likely to be cut. Qantas said it had already engaged in preliminary talks with the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and South Australian governments.

"We're not at the point of requiring stand-downs in our domestic operations at this stage," Mr Joyce said in an email to staff seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "But to be honest, we can't rule it out if multiple states keep their borders closed for extended periods."

Major retailers including Smiggle, Hype DC and Platypus Shoes have already stood down staff in states under lockdown but Qantas' size and prominence have triggered fresh calls from unions for a new round of JobKeeper wage subsidies to aid the increasing number of people without an income.

Qantas' warning also underscores calls on Wednesday from a coalition of business lobby groups for the government to relax industrial laws and let companies cut staff hours and redeploy them to avoid standing them down.

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Qantas wants state borders opened and then international borders to follow. Four-week publicity campaign to coincide with Queensland elections. Low-transmission states should open to each other to help economy: industry. Thousands of jobs lost so far, billions in tourism dollars gone each month. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce wants Australia's state borders to open first as a prelude to opening international borders. The Sunday Mail revealed there are now discussions between NSW and New Zealand about a travel bubble. The national carrier has started a petition called 'Safely Open Our Borders' which calls for

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Video: ‘Highly unlikely’ Sydney lockdown will end on Friday (Sky News Australia)

Rival airline Rex, which has mounted a challenge to Qantas and Virgin on capital city routes this year, also announced it was temporarily cutting back services in response to the lockdowns on Wednesday. It said regional routes in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland would all be either suspended or greatly reduced until the border closures and lockdowns were lifted.

"If [Qantas] workers are forced into an unpaid stand-down and JobKeeper is not reinstated by the federal government, many workers and their families will be left destitute," said the Australian Services Union's Emeline Gaske, who represents check-in and other staff.

People who lose more than 20 hours' work a week and live or are employed in a coronavirus hotspot are entitled to $600 a week in federal support. That is lower than the initial level of JobKeeper but equal to the $1200 fortnightly payment the scheme was set at for months.

CBA ready to help customers in lockdowns

  CBA ready to help customers in lockdowns Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Matt Comyn says his bank stands ready to assist customers with over half the population now in lockdown. Greater Sydney and some NSW regional areas are in lockdown until July 30, and Victoria is in an extended shutdown until next Tuesday, as is South Australia. Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Matt Comyn said his bank received 500 requests for financial help on Tuesday, particularly for home loan deferrals, and anticipates this will build in the coming weeks.

Qantas argues that stood - down employees cannot take sick leave if there is no work for them to be absent from. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito. But Qantas is refusing to budge on the issue and on Tuesday reiterated its long-held stance. "Unfortunately, the devastating impact that travel restrictions have had on airlines means the majority of our employees are stood down and not receiving their regular income — whether that's normal pay or paid sick leave," a Qantas spokesman told the ABC.

South Australia entered a week-long lockdown to quell a spike in coronavirus cases at 6pm local time on Tuesday. Premier Steven Marshall defended the decision to impose harsh measures, stating that “we hate to put these restrictions in place, but we have just one chance to get this right” to avoid an extended lockdown period and cases New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state and home to Sydney, has been under lockdown measures since June. Cases are showing a slight downward trend since Saturday when 111 were reported. On Tuesday, 78 new infections were recorded.

The current COVID-19 Disaster Payment does not require staff to be kept on their employer's books, which Labor has claimed is a problem because it may make it harder for people to regain work when lockdowns ease.

Even if Qantas stands down its staff, they will remain its employees.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday the COVID-19 Disaster Payment was better suited to the current wave of the pandemic than JobKeeper because it could be turned on and off more quickly in response to lockdowns. "When you go through a pandemic ... you don't address last year's challenges," Mr Morrison said. "You address today's challenges."

Mr Joyce said in his email that if current lockdowns ended as scheduled, Qantas would probably return to 60 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 domestic flights by August and up to 90 per cent by September or October, avoiding the need for stand-downs.

The Transport Workers Union estimates Qantas will have received about $2 billion in taxpayer support by the end of the year, including JobKeeper payments for its staff, even as it has outsourced about 2000 ground workers.

"Aviation needs support but it must serve the interests of those who matter most: passengers and workers," the union's national secretary, Michael Kaine, said.

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usr: 3
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