How do you justify the slashing of 1000 jobs? For Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, you tell the media that lawyers in Thailand are ditching the timesheets to work as cabin crew for Jetstar.
Joyce has been on message over the last few days, as he does the rounds in trying to sell his restructuring of Qantas and its low-cost carrier, Jetstar.
Folklaw nearly spilt its cup of tea over its puce satin dressing gown on Tuesday night (16 August) while watching LateLine Business during an ad break for Sports Tonight when Joyce answered a question from Ticky Fullerton regarding the pay of cabin crew at Qantas with the comment; "We actually have lawyers leaving the legal profession to work for Jetstar as cabin crew. The impression that people have is that people are in bondage, it's slave labour, but these are lawyers that want to work for the airline up there".
Folklaw wasn't sure if it was hallucinating in a pre-sleep haze, but when it heard Joyce express similar sentiments in an interview with Radio National host Fran Kelly on the wireless the following morning, Folklaw knew it wasn't dreaming.
According to a Perth Now article in June, Thai-based Jetstar cabin crew earn a base wage of around 14,000 baht per month, which is just over $5300 a year. Jetstar said this can rise to as much as $30,000 annually.
Australian-based Jetstar cabin crew can expect to earn around $50,000 per year, with overtime.
While Thai-based Jetstar cabin crew do earn considerably more than many other Thai workers (Joyce claims they are amongst the top 3 per cent of salary earners in Thailand), Folklaw thinks it's a bit of a stretch to claim that law firms in Thailand are looking over their shoulder and trying to stave off potential competition for talent from Jetstar.
Many local lawyers with local firms in Thailand can potentially earn a lot more than 14,000 baht per month, while the big international law firms in Bangkok pay their lawyers infinitely more than $30,000 per year.
Whatever the salary, Folklaw can see how lawyers could make the transition to cabin crew successfully. Both jobs involve long hours, dealing with difficult and stroppy clients who want to be anywhere else but where they are now, and both jobs provide easy access to free coffee and booze. If only those Thai law firms that lost lawyers to Jetstar managed to get their fee-earners into uniforms, they might still be working in the law.
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