Money 'Morale at rock bottom': Super row as Qantas food fight gets ugly

23:11  08 july  2018
23:11  08 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

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"It’s terrible, I’ve never seen it as bad - at Qantas catering morale is at rock bottom ," he said. "That was very important to a lot of people," he said. Mr Pieri said the meeting " got a bit ugly ", with people refusing to leave the room.

Discussions between Qantas and staff about the sale of Q Catering have turned ugly , with five union delegates stood down amid a row over superannuation entitlements. "It’s terrible, I’ve never seen it as bad - at Qantas catering morale is at rock bottom ," he said.

A Qantas spokesman said the company had © Karleen Minney A Qantas spokesman said the company had "clear and transparent" ways for staff to raise concerns.

Discussions between Qantas and staff about the sale of Q Catering have turned ugly, with five union delegates stood down amid a row over superannuation entitlements.

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Qantas announced the sale of its catering arms to Emirates Group's dnata Catering in April, pending Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approval.

An ACCC spokesman said the watchdog's assessment of the sale would be finalised shortly.

While Qantas' Q Catering and Snap Fresh employees are set to become dnata employees once the sale is finalised, subject to their current employment agreements, their previous agreement expired late last year and staff are concerned their entitlements will not be kept.

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TWU NSW assistant state secretary Mick Pieri said staff morale was bad, and the workers had "a whole lot of questions that need answers".

"It’s terrible, I’ve never seen it as bad - at Qantas catering morale is at rock bottom," he said.

Mr Pieri said staff were particularly concerned about losing their generous Qantas Superannuation entitlements.

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"[The Q Catering staff have] defined benefit superannuation, worth quite a bit of money," he said.

The most common type of superannuation is an accumulation fund, which is funded by the compulsory 9.5 per cent paid by employers, any personal contributions, and investment returns after fees. After retirement, members can take a lump sum or a regular pension based on how much is in the account.

Defined benefit funds are an older and more generous type of super, not normally offered to new employees, that pay an annual pension to retired members for the rest of their lives, with the amount based on their final-year salary and length of service. They are particularly attractive because they are usually indexed for inflation and not tied to market fluctuations.

Qantas' defined benefit funds are a hangover from its days as a government-run company. It is understood there are more catering staff with accumulation funds than defined benefit funds.

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In a heated stop-work meeting two weeks ago in Sydney, Mr Pieri said representatives from Qantas Superannuation could not tell staff whether they would get the same superannuation benefits if they became dnata employees.

"That was very important to a lot of people," he said.

Mr Pieri said the meeting "got a bit ugly", with people refusing to leave the room. As a result, Mr Pieri said, all 60-70 people in the meeting were stood down.

While most were reinstated, it's understood five employees are still stood down on full pay pending a Qantas investigation.

The sale of Q Catering to Emirates-owned dnata depends on ACCC approval.© Supplied The sale of Q Catering to Emirates-owned dnata depends on ACCC approval. Qantas says it's answered staff questions

In a statement, a Qantas spokesman said the changes to superannuation was explained to all catering staff.

"We can understand that the proposed sale of Q Catering is unsettling for some of our staff and that’s why management and representatives from Qantas Superannuation have visited all four catering centres to answer questions," the spokesman said.

In a letter sent to Q Catering and Snap Fresh employees in June, Qantas Superannuation explained dnata had agreed to "use all reasonable efforts to ensure that Q Catering and Snap Fresh will contribute to the new super fund on terms that are no less favourable for employees".

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It gets quite frustrating," Croker said. "We can’t sit there and kick stones, one thing we can’t do is sit there and sulk about it, we’ve got to move on. ' Morale at rock bottom ': Super row as Qantas food fight gets ugly .

The Qantas spokesman said the company did not comment on individual staffing matters, but it had "clear and transparent" ways for staff to raise concerns.

"Broadly speaking, any employee who takes unprotected industrial action is acting unlawfully and faces potential disciplinary action under Australian employment law."

Negotiations are still continuing for a new enterprise agreement, which Mr Pieri said needed to be fast-tracked as the employees, particularly casuals, wanted an agreement in writing that would guarantee their super and employment benefits.

"My really major concern right now is we’ve got to get an enterprise agreement over the line, so at least they’ve got a tool to take with them," he said. "If they do not put it in writing, guaranteeing super, guaranteeing causals' jobs, we’ll put on a fight."

Qantas' catering arms employ about 1200 people, while dnata employs more than 4000 people in Australia. As part of the sale, dnata will supply catering to Qantas for a minimum of 10 years, while Qantas will continue to set its own menus.

dnata was approached for comment.

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