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Senator accuses Qantas of running ‘like crime gang’ in court

The Qantas board has been accused of operating like a “crime gang” for allegedly pocketing “massive” bonuses despite the mounting number of court proceedings it has been up against.

user iconNaomi Neilson 03 November 2023 Big Law
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A judge of the NSW District Court on Friday morning (3 November) said a verdict in the SafeWork criminal prosecution brought against the airline for an alleged unfair sacking would be delayed a week because he had received another case relevant to the matter late on Thursday.

The delay news came hours before Qantas’ annual general meeting.

Appearing outside the courthouse after the announcement, Labor Senator Tony Sheldon told waiting reporters Qantas is “operating like a crime gang” while the courts have seen “case after case” against them, including a recent finding that it illegally sacked 1,700 workers.

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“They are still giving themselves massive bonuses case after case.

“[This delay] is yet another example of what needs to be done about holding these companies to account,” Mr Sheldon said.

The District Court case concerned a former cleaner, Theo Seremetidis, who was terminated for instructing others not to work.

Mr Seremetidis said he did so because staff had not been supplied with the proper equipment to protect themselves from COVID-19.

He alleged at the time, he was told by Qantas the “risk of catching COVID-19 outside of China was very low”.

Appearing alongside Mr Sheldon, Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Michael Kaine said Qantas is a company “whose exploits have been laid bare” in courts recently, which has shown the airline is “the greatest corporate bullies in Australian history”.

He called for the removal of chairperson Richard Goyder.

“[Qantas employees] have been hoodwinked by a company that previously, over generations, had grown trust.

“That trust has been ripped away.

“This is another example of Qantas fighting hard to damage workers who are just doing the right thing for themselves and for the Australian flying public,” Mr Kaine said.

Referring to the AGM, Mr Kaine said shareholders are “furious” with the airline and called for the entire board to be replaced.

“Shareholders want a company that is viable in an ongoing sense.

“The management team has said it wants to turn over a new leaf … so [Mr Goyder] has to go. We need board renewal urgently,” he said.

Mr Sheldon agreed, telling reporters Mr Goyder should be pushed out “as quickly as possible”.

“It is beyond belief to think that this board has any credibility in the way they have been operating,” Mr Sheldon said.

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