The Transport Workers Union is suing Qantas over sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic.
The union claims the airline is still responsible for paying sick leave to 25,000 workers currently stood down.
Transport Workers Union sues on behalf of sick workers
Qantas stood down most of its workforce in March.
Consequently telling workers they can’t access paid personal or carer’s leave while stood down.
A Perth-based baggage handler employed by the airline for 35 years told the Federal Court he can’t access his entitlements while waiting for a triple bypass.
In a sworn statement, he describes being sick before the coronavirus existed.
“I do not understand why I cannot use my personal leave to continue to cover this period.
“I probably wouldn’t be able to get a job at the current time because of my heart condition and because there are so many others without my condition also looking for work.”
Another worker currently fighting cancer, says he can’t understand why his entitlements are not being paid during the pandemic.
He argues it is putting “significant pressure” on him and his family.
Airline accused of being ‘heartless’
The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, called the conduct of Qantas “heartless”.
“This is something that should shock the Australian community and not one we’d expect of our national carrier.
“The workers are being frozen out from taking sick leave that is theirs and they’ve rightly earned.
“The legislation says that if workers are sick they’re entitled to sick leave.
“It’s up to Qantas to do what is the right thing to do, and look after workers who have looked after them for decades, in their hour of need.”
Kaine says the union is expecting a declaration from the court in a matter of days.
Qantas says workers not entitled to leave
However, Qantas is refusing to budge on the issue, with a spokesperson telling the ABC:
“Employees who are stood down are not eligible to receive paid sick leave because there is no work for employees to be absent from but they can access annual, long-service leave and other support.”
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