Industrial aggression costs employment, passengers and profits

Industrial aggression costs employment, passengers and profits

Qantas’s announcement this morning, an 83 per cent fall in net profit, is a disappointment that could have been avoided had management decided to engage constructively with staff instead of deploying an aggressive approach of brinkmanship, the Australian and International Pilots Association said today.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce declared industrial action cost the company $194 million in the half year to December, although the figure fails to take into consideration the huge cost of brand damage sustained.

AIPA Vice President Captain Richard Woodward said it was saddening to think how much pain could have been avoided.

“Mr Joyce’s decision to ground the airline and strand tens of thousands of passengers around the world has cost this company a massive amount directly, and an even greater amount indirectly through brand damage. Of the $194 million that has been costed, not a single cent could be attributed to the actions of pilots. The same cannot be said for management,” he said.

“The fact is, if management had committed to meaningful negotiations with employee groups in 2011, the efficiencies put on the table – particularly by pilots - would have seen this airline heading for record profits and not record job losses. Recent management has been a great success in the eyes of industrial relation hardliners, but a great failure in the eyes of passengers, shareholders, employees and the Australian public.

“Of further disappointment, is the continuing rudderless approach to managing the airline for the future. As predicted by pilots, aircraft are now having to return to routes they were previously removed from, with the A330 back on Perth routes and the B747 back on New York routes. Maintenance segregation is being returned back to consolidated facilities.

“Meanwhile, the so-called RedQ Malaysia plans – to shift Qantas operations to Southeast Asia – seem to have hit so many of the predicted hurdles that it doesn’t even warrant a mention. Investors are entitled to question exactly what is going here.

“Amidst all this there seems to be virtually zero focus on how to rebuild a strong, quality Qantas brand. There is no reference to what has made Qantas great for 90 years or why it has fallen from the number one brand in the country to out of the top fifty altogether in just a few short years.

“The good news however, is things could still turn around. Look what has happened at Telstra since David Thodey changed the strategy adopted by Sol Trujillo. Much can be learnt from that experience.”