Virgin’s Queensland workers told 400 roles will go

There are renewed calls for Virgin Australia's Queensland workers to be protected amid reports the airline will slash up to 400 roles from its Brisbane Airport base.

Workers at the carrier's Brisbane Airport international hub have been told they may be among 3000 workers out of a job as new airline owner Bain Capital restructures and rebuilds the carrier.

Several Virgin workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said experienced staff in the international branch were told their roles would be made redundant, with the airline's overseas flights grounded indefinitely due to COVID-19.

Virgin Australia, however, insists it is still engaging with workers and unions and exploring redeployment opportunities where possible.

The airline says despite the international workers' roles being redundant, it did not automatically mean they would exit the airline and no worker had yet left the business.

Virgin Australia announced last week 6000 of its 9000-strong workforce would remain at the carrier with a view to grow it back to 8000 when international flying resumes.

Virgin Australia last week announced international flying would remain suspended, however, the airline has kept its Los Angeles and Tokyo slots for when flights eventually return.

"There was an expectation that we would be transferred back to domestic and that redundancies would be made based on length of service," one worker said.

The 10-year employee questioned why Virgin was accepting $200m from the Queensland Government while slashing roles from the state.

 

Several Virgin workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said experienced staff in the international branch were told their roles would be made redundant. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Several Virgin workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said experienced staff in the international branch were told their roles would be made redundant. (AAP Image/Darren England)

 

"They announced 3000 jobs cuts, these cuts could easily be made from other states while keeping jobs in Queensland," they said.

"The only thing Virgin and Bain seem to want to do is slash wages and working conditions of its highest paid staff."

Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander said the state government should explain what Queensland taxpayers received for their $200m stake in the airline.

"It would be a bitter pill for Queenslanders to swallow if taxpayers' money ends up being used to fund the redundancy cheques of Queensland workers," he said.

The fight over Queensland jobs comes as new owner Bain Capital launches a stinging attack at bondholders hoping to derail the sale of Virgin Australia.

Bain accused Asian-backed bondholders, who won the right to present their plan to Virgin Australia creditors at a meeting on September 4, of trying to "frustrate the administration process by creating as much noise and interference as possible".

"Despite knowing the sale agreements are binding, certain bondholders have recently put forward a proposal for Virgin Australia," a Bain spokesman said.

"The proposal is not credible, nor capable of progressing.

"Stakeholders need certainty and stability, so for the sake of the airline and its employees, Bain Capital will not be distracted by it."

The Bain spokesman said the offshore hedge funds were "not set up to own or provide stewardship for such a significant company such as Virgin Australia".


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