Qantas is a microcosm of so many things wrong about our priorities and attitudes at the moment.
Big business bullying workers and threatening to off-shore their jobs if they don’t accept poor conditions. It bullies Governments with the same off-shoring threats if they introduce necessary changes like carbon taxes, yet demand protectionist market conditions and favourable access to energy and infrastructure in the same breath. Companies like Qantas and the big carbon emitters pay huge amounts of money to lobby groups to generate support for protection of their profits.
Profits all the same continue to rise for these companies despite dire warnings of extra taxes killing their competitiveness. Shareholders are told by the company leaders that business is strong and will survive external threats due to the extreme cleverness of their Board and Management Team. While the same time sending out dire messages to the press and to politicians via lobby groups that conditions are “uncertain” and changes to policy or taxes will kill their competitiveness.
Again, we have the greedy CEO rewarding himself with grotesque pay increases. A company with the desire to off-shore Australian jobs for cheaper asian labour. A $552 million full year profit, yet no money to pay its staff. Qantas’ excellent safety record is barely holding up with the many documented near-misses due to reduced standards at off-shore maintenance facilities. Despite this, the desire is clear for more off-shoring as a long-term plan to reduce costs! A business plan to cut deeper into cheaper markets and the busier routes with Jet Star and their ilk, rather than carving and improving a tactical niche with the established Qantas brand.
So hell bent on pulling out of Australia as a base for employment for its operations, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is throwing away it’s only remaining competitive edge- its dedicated and motivated workforce and its loyal customer base. This is not to suggest that all overseas operations are dodgy, however conditions and staff wellbeing are closely linked to performance and safety, this was Qantas’ edge, now jeopardised by short-sighted profit taking agenda. Just like the home consumer wanting cheap and nasty goods from China rather than those made closer to home by people with proper working conditions, now our national airline wants to cheapen its own supply line and staffing costs.
The promise of greater efficiency and huge windfalls for governments from the proceeds of privatisation have shown yet again how short-sighted “listed companies” become. Qantas is now just another soulless entity bent only on making profits for shareholders, millions for its Board and Management Team and cutting every corner and every job they can find to extract another petty cent out of the public. The short-term mindset of the “shareholder interest” and opinion poll-driven media ask of our governments to sell once great companies like Qantas. Look where this had got us, how petty and petulant this company has become.
We must reflect on the standard of debate in the media and community and recent policy changes. We have mining companies are making sensational record profits and dont want to share that profit with the Australian tax payer through resource rent and carbon taxes. Gambling-reliant clubs don’t want to accept terms that would make problem gamblers take notice of their habit and change for the good of their families. Airlines complain about workforce demands and expect government policy to change so that they can further exploit or replace the workers.
An irresponsible and reckless Coalition in Opposition make deliberately misleading headway from ongoing fear campaigns on all of these matters, supported by a stupidly short-sighted sensationally media. The Coalition and their mouth-pieces in the media claim to be working in the interests of the people, yet plainly. as the exorbitant profits show- they are working exclusively for the 1% like Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
To claim this is just a matter of tall-poppy syndrome is to deliberately distort the truth that the rich are pulling the wool over our eyes with their influence on policy and the media. So greedy in their desire that they will ground an entire airline as a knee-jerk reaction as a bullying tactic, inconveniencing thousands of travellers all across the world.
Joyce grounding all Qantas flights is a child’s temper tantrum and has all the dignity of an Alan Jones speech outside parliament house.
In this profit-now culture in Australia we must ask- is this the Qantas we deserve?