Sydney, Australia, Sep 13 (EFE).- Australia’s High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Qantas against rulings that found it had illegally sacked 1,700 ground staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, opening the door for those affected to seek compensation.
Then Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce speaks during the company’s results announcement press conference in Sydney, Australia, 20 August 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
The decision of Australia’s highest court was unanimous and upheld two prior rulings of the Federal Court, which had considered that the airline had illegally dismissed baggage handlers and cleaners at 10 airports.
In a statement, the airline said it “acknowledges and accepts the High Court’s decision.”
“We deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected and we sincerely apologize for that,” it added.
In 2020 Qantas outsourced the jobs of some 1,700 ground workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, which had forced Australia to close its borders in March of that year until at least November 2021.
The Federal Court had ruled twice that the measure was illegal, which have now been endorsed by the High Court.
“This is a massive victory for the workers who have not stopped fighting for justice since they were outsourced,” the Transport Workers’ Union wrote in X after Wednesday’s ruling.
The High Court’s decision opens the door for Qantas workers to seek compensation.
“A prior decision by the Federal Court has ruled out reinstatement of workers but it will now consider penalties for the breach and compensation for relevant employees, which will factor in redundancy payments already made by Qantas,” the airline said in the statement.
Then Qantas CEO Alan Joyce speaks in front of Qantas Airways flight QF7474 during an official farewell event for the Qantas 747 fleet at Sydney Airport in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 22 July 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/JOEL CARRETT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
In May, the group appointed Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson as CEO, the first woman to hold the position in the company’s 103 years, taking over from Alan Joyce, who on Sep. 5 brought his retirement forward by two months, exiting the company with immediate effect amid mounting controversies.
In August, Qantas reported a record pre-tax profit of AU$2.5 billion ($1.6 billion) for 2022-23, the first positive result since 2019. EFE