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John Passant

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September 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Victory to Qantas workers

It’s pretty simple really, Qantas.

Pay your workers a 15% pay increase over 3 years and guarantee job security. Qantas has refused.

The result? Transport Workers Union members – the baggage handlers, ramp and catering workers – have taken short stop work action. Engineers too have gone out for a few hours here and there. 

A perfect storm is brewing. Today for example a one hour stoppage affected up to 30 flights. Qantas cried crocodile tears about disrupting the public’s travel.

Unions have been trying for 7 months to get a sensible offer about wages and job security from Qantas. Remember this is the neoliberal warrior organisation that has announced it will sack one thousand workers here. 

Last year Qantas made $530 million in pre-tax profit. This was a 120 percent increase over the year before. Alan Joyce got a 71 percent pay increase.

Yet he wants to deny his own workforce an extra 4.8 percent per year. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the cost of living of employee households rose 4.5 per cent in the year to June. This was driven by price increases in increases in ‘mortgage interest charges, fruit, automotive fuel, tobacco, electricity and rents’. A year before the figure was 4.9 percent.

In other words the unions’ claim is just enough to cover cost increases of the last year and yet Qantas refuses to pay it. 

So far there have been skirmishes – a few hours here, a stop work of an hour there. Engineers stopped for an hour tonight and are threatening a 24 hour stoppage next Friday.

Customs and Border Protection staff – whose employer is the Gillard Government, not Qantas – have also been taking short stop work action, and disrupting some air travel. The Gillard Government has limited any pay increases for public servants to no more than 9 percent over 3 years, a real wage cut.

Their public service union leadership appears to have caved in now that Customs’ management has agreed to, wait for it, talks.

They have called off threatened action for next week. The result will be some tawdry deal that the leadership will try to sell as  a breakthrough to the members. Anything less that 5 percent a year  is a wage cut and that isn’t even on the unions’ agenda.

Back to Qantas. This is not just a dispute about wages and security of tenure. 

The Qantas business model is to break the unions and by doing that cut wage costs and offshore more activities.

But the disruption even the small stoppages are causing shows where the real power lies. They need us; we don’t need them.

If TWU members and engineers went out for a few days they’d bring Qantas to its knees, perhaps alternating strike days, they’d cut off its profits, protect jobs and win handsome wage increases.

In fact 15 percent over 3 years is a pittance.

Union members could make a counter demand on Qantas that goes beyond the limited claims of their leadership. If they really fought, and went on strike for a while, they could demand and win 30 percent over 3 years and an increase in the workforce in Australia of ten percent per annum to overcome the extra work burden Qantas has imposed on its workforce over the last decade or more.  That would strengthen the union against management attacks now and in to the future and increase its membership.

And if Qantas doesn’t agree, the union members could shut down the airline and not one of their planes would fly in Australia until they cave in. That too is the way to win 15 percent over 3 years and job security but why limit yourself to such small real wage gains if you are going to have to fight like the devil anyway?


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