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AMWU and AWU hope Qantas will not outsource maintenance work to China.

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Thursday 9 March 2006

AMWU and AWU hope Qantas will not outsource maintenance work to China


TONY EASTLEY: 2,500 Qantas engineers and maintenance workers are hoping to find out today if their jobs will be protected. 


The National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Doug Cameron, says he expects Qantas will make an announcement this afternoon about the future of its engineering workforce. 


In October last year, Qantas Chief Executive, Geoff Dixon, said the airline was considering moving some of its engineering operations overseas, and there's been a lot of speculation that the jobs could go to China.  


Lynn Bell reports. 


LYNN BELL: The Chief Executive of Qantas, Geoff Dixon, has arranged a meeting in Sydney at midday today. 


Bill Shorten from the Australian Workers Union is invited, as is Doug Cameron, the National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. 


Doug Cameron says they expect to be told what's in store for the thousands of engineers and maintenance workers who face an uncertain future.  


DOUG CAMERON: Obviously we hope that the public announcement is that they've dropped off the strategy to send 2,500 airline jobs to China. 


LYNN BELL: It's been quite a long time now that these 2,500 workers are sitting there with their jobs on the line, how is the feeling amongst maintenance workers now? 


DOUG CAMERON: Look, I think this is a terrible situation.  


It's almost been five months that this cloud has been hanging over these workers. These are workers who earn $45,000 a year. They gave Qantas their reputation for safety, they have turned Qantas into the quality airline that it is. These workers should not be threatened with their jobs going to China. They should be recognised for the terrific job that they do, for what is a very, very small remuneration. 


LYNN BELL: Qantas has not confirmed when it will announce the airline's maintenance strategy, but last week, the Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson said the airline's engineering costs are now above world's best practice, and a more competitive cost structure must be introduced. 


Doug Cameron says there are many other ways for Qantas to cut costs and maintenance jobs should be protected. 


DOUG CAMERON: I don't hear Geoff Dixon saying that after he benchmarks the maintenance workers' wages with Chinese workers that he will benchmark his $6 million salary against a Chinese executive. 


This is totally unfair. It's totally unreasonable and I think the public in Australia must eventually say enough is enough. 


LYNN BELL: Bill Shorten says the company's safety record is riding on the quality of its ground staff and he remains hopeful that the jobs will stay in Australia. 


BILL SHORTEN: You know, I'm not convinced Qantas does want to send its jobs to China and why on earth would they? They've got a great workforce in Australia. I do wonder if they'll be restructuring in Sydney, I do wonder if they'll send jobs to Melbourne or to Brisbane. 


One thing's for sure, if they send the jobs to China, they've got a major problem. 


LYNN BELL: Doug Cameron says if Qantas decides to send the jobs overseas the prospect of industrial action will loom large. 


TONY EASTLEY: Lynn Bell reporting.