Employees were invited to apply for voluntary redundancies and those that remained would be reclassified as dispatch allocators.
TWU submission said it “became clear in the course of discussions that Q-Catering proposed to make employees at Level 8 redundant and allocate their duties to purportedly new roles to be paid at level 6”.
Talks between the union and Qantas failed to resolve the issue, with the TWU arguing the new dispatch allocator roles should remain at level 8 under clause 18 of Qantas Airways Limited and QCatering Limited – Transport Workers Agreement 2015.
The TWU contend that the dispatch allocators “continue to undertake duties and assume responsibilities which involve ‘significant operational responsibility and/or manpower control’ sufficient to warrant classification at level 8”.
“Whilst Q-Catering has attempted to restructure supervisory positions and introduce new technology, the duties actually undertaken by the relevant employees have not substantially changed in a manner that would justify reducing their pay rate from level 8 to level 6,” the TWU submission said.
The demoted employees were expected to report workload matters, and manage staff movements, labour requirements and resources – duties normally associated with higher classifications, the union asserted.
TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) Secretary John Berger said no system that made it possible for work classification downgrades to be used to force workers to be paid less for doing the same job could be tolerated.
“We need to fight very hard against any cases of the corporate hoodwinking of workers. If one company gets away with it, more employers in the same and other industries will try it on and a very dangerous race to the bottom will occur that will result in many workers becoming much worse off,”John said.
In the six months to last December, Qantas posted profits of $852 million.