WORKPLACE Relations Minister Bill Shorten has questioned whether Qantas management is "needlessly scrapping" thousands of jobs in a short-term response to the sharemarket.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said on Wednesday that a total of about 2800 full-time jobs would be lost as a result of the airline's previously announced restructuring plans.
Mr Shorten yesterday said the job losses were disappointing.
"Qantas has prided itself on the quality of its maintenance performance," he said. "We accept that Qantas is doing it hard on its global routes; we accept that there are lots of economic challenges. But I certainly hope that the people running Qantas are not making short-term decisions based around the next 12 months of sharemarket reporting and in doing so scrapping needlessly thousands of skilled jobs which one day, as business takes off again, we will need here rather than exporting our maintenance."
He said Qantas was an Australian brand, with Australian values, and a "proud tradition of being a very big employer of Australians".
"Now that Australian identity remains, but I also think that people expect and hope that Qantas will respect its Australian workforce," he said. "It doesn't matter if they're pilots, flight attendants, licensed engineers, maintenance workers, the people at the checkout or the ticket collection, or indeed, the people cleaning up in Qantas, all of them. What makes Qantas a strong Australian brand is its Australian identity, and with that identity comes a responsibility to have a practice of employing people in Australia, which Qantas does."
Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said "contrary to what some union leaders would have you believe, Qantas employs around 30,000 Australians and invests tens of millions of dollars in training and skills each year".
"Qantas is the only airline that does heavy engineering maintenance at its own facilities in Australia, while other Australian airlines send the majority of their maintenance offshore," she said.
"Most of the reduction in job numbers at Qantas is due to advancements in technology, which means the work doesn't exist anymore. We don't maintain our cars the same way as we did 20 years ago and the same goes for aircraft."
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