Check your facts

I have already mentioned this, but I am amazed at just how slack journalists are in terms of checking facts.  This is particularly inexcusable because the source documents are so readily available.

Here’s a clanger from Ben Sandilands in today’s The Australian (note he is a Crikey writer):

If Joyce’s greatest PR stunt of all – the 2011 grounding of the carrier to underscore an application to Fair Work Australia to suspend protected industrial action that would always have been granted on its merits – had not happened, its accounts would have been spared a cost of almost $200m, and intangible damage to the brand.

Actually, no, Ben.  Had he bothered to go to the Full Bench decision of Fair Work Australia, he would have been able to ascertain that the tribunal did not take the view that the grounds to order industrial action to cease on the grounds of significant economic harm (section 423 of the Fair Work Act) had been met.  In other words, the application to Fair Work Australia to suspend protected industrial action would not have been granted.

On this issue, Joyce was absolutely right to bring it on by locking out the workers.

Now, I am happy to go along with the argument that Joyce has made other mistakes, including taking Jetstar into Asia (hey, but we are told that it’s the Asian Century), but on this industrial relations issue, Joyce was completely on the money.

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13 Responses to Check your facts

  1. Leon

    QANTAS has to be one of our most poorly managed companies. Just look at the last AGM. Joyce said the reforms undertaken were working and the company was on track to return to profitability. A $100 million share buy back scheme was then undertaken. Less than 3 months later and QANTAS is cash flow negative, recording a huge loss and need capital and government support. Joyce then claims the playing field is not level.
    Workplace practices are much less important in the demise of QANTAS as a business than poor management. Using QANTAS as a case of restrictive work practices just doesn’t fly when management has been demonstrably worse than the workers. No amount of assistance can reverse the situation at QANTAS until good management is restored.

  2. Token

    I am happy to go along with the argument that Joyce has made other mistakes, including taking Jetstar into Asia

    Unlike the long history of QANTAS accepting appalling agreements with its highly unionised workforce which the relevant managers could see would bring the company down and heavily if conditions changed slightly…

    …the decision to get a share of the discount market in Asia was a SOUND idea which the execution failed on execution.

  3. Leon, you said a lot without any support of your assertion that Qantas’s management is to blame. Even if so, it does not detract from the union’s contribution to problems at Qantas.

  4. Uber

    Agree. Overall you’d have to say Joyce has been very good for Qantas, which may well have sunk by now without his management (by handing the company over to unions for one thing). He might still succeed in getting taxpaying funding, as well as getting rid of the ridiculous foreign investment rules. Either or both would be a major coup.

  5. sabrina

    On this issue, Joyce was absolutely right to bring it on by locking out the workers – sorry Judith, he showed scant regard for the travelling public at the time who pays his hefty salary.
    Unions are to blame as well for where Qantas is at present along with several exogenous factors, but he is one of the incompetent managers in our aviation history, always blames others except himself. He should go, along with some of his board members.

  6. .

    he showed scant regard for the travelling public at the time who pays his hefty salar

    They’re not shareholders. It doesn’t matter.

    The shareholders will be held accountable by the market if they don’t get rid of a poor manager.

  7. Tom

    These days, Sandilands is little more than a spokesman and cheerleader for the Qantas unions with an irrational hatred of Joyce as the Satan attempting to bring over Jetstar’s lower pay rates to the main brand. He also has the blind arrogance of the socialist armchair critic in refusing to see that Virgin started the flood of red ink that precipitated the current industry crisis to gain market share — all financed by government-owned or controlled airlines — and that Qantas’s great crisis is the Australian crisis of demanding the world’s highest living standards without first having earned them.

  8. politichix

    Uber
    #1206090, posted on February 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Agree. Overall you’d have to say Joyce has been very good for Qantas, which may well have sunk by now without his management (by handing the company over to unions for one thing). He might still succeed in getting taxpaying funding, as well as getting rid of the ridiculous foreign investment rules. Either or both would be a major coup.

    Well said. What exactly is the poor management meme based on?

  9. I can understand people joining unions, but what I can’t get my head around is why we’ve created a system which effectively hands control of profitable entities over to them.

    Joyce should go for broke, draw-up a plan to liquidate the company and make it public, I am sure that would get the desired result from Canberra he wants.

    The greatest threat to unions are themselves, Joyce should just help the process along.

  10. LABCR-TV

    I cannot help but wonder if jobs would have been saved at Toyota if they had adopted the same lockout tactic that Qantas used, after that biased labor judge prevented Toyota from negotiating directly with its employees. Some judge!

  11. Vicki

    In defence of Sandlilands, he was the only aviation journalist that drew attention in an informed way to the series of engine failures in Qantas aircraft a few years back.

    I am still of the belief that the progressive outsourcing of aircraft maintenance to Asian companies was a poor decision. The unusually prolonged long haul flights of Qantas international flights (as opposed to the shorter haul flights of other airlines) put extreme pressures on engines, which were well understood by local aircraft engineers. I suppose it doesn’t matter now, since Qantas has pulled out of virtually all of its long haul destinations.

  12. Mundi

    So can anyone explain the difference between virgin and qantas? Is it really just the employee costs of having a strong unionised force over decades? I have seen claims similar jobs at the two companies pay half as much at virgin. Does anyone know the truth behind this?

  13. Alain

    Qantas baggage handlers get paid 30% more than Virgin baggage handlers and get more generous staff travel entitlements. Somehow I don’t think they lift more bags individually or work any harder to justify that 30%.

    They should sack all the baggage handlers and announce they are outsourcing that work to contract labour. What matters is customer-facing staff (i.e. at check-in and on board) being QF employed, so they actually know the airline rules and the alliance agreements and status entitlements for passengers.

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