Monday, October 31, 2011

War on Workers goes Down Under

Teamters Local 911 shows its solidarity with locked-out Qantas workers.
Locked-out Qantas workers are back on the job today after hundreds of flights were canceled and tens of thousands of passengers stranded. The disruption was caused by one man -- Alan Joyce -- who is waging a war on good Australian jobs. The story is sadly familiar to workers in the U.S. and Canada.
Bernard Keane at Crikey describes what happened:
You’re a historic Australian company, but you’re doing it tough. You claim you’re struggling to cope in a highly competitive international market, with subsidised foreign competition, high energy prices and a high Aussie dollar killing you. So you’ve focused on slashing labour costs and gunning for the unions that represent your workers.
But in reality, it’s your management mistakes, and their failure to respond innovatively to challenges like your competitors have, that have been critical to the problems you now face. So you try to force government intervention to help you out of the corner you’ve painted yourself into...
...the list of failures of Qantas management in recent years has been lengthy. Many of the competitive pressures it is facing have, in effect, been self-inflicted. has substituted aggression towards unions for competence and innovation...
...Joyce has used the threat of economic damage and the political pressure of Australia-wide transport chaos to force the government to intervene to end the dispute and force a resolution.
I called it industrial terrorism on the weekend, a description some readers had a problem with. It’s no moral judgment, simply an accurate description of what Joyce is doing — threatening havoc and spreading fear as a means of achieving political and economic ends. It’s industrial terrorism by definition. And it’s worked.
Some suggest Joyce has failed to anticipate how much the grounding will harm Qantas’s brand. The stories from airports here and overseas, of angry, tearful or disconsolate Qantas passengers desperately searching for alternative flights, are undoubtedly very damaging, particularly for Qantas’s international services. But from Joyce’s point of view, there’s no particular problem with brand damage, because his longer-term strategy is offshoring anyway. Why worry about damaging the airline’s brand if your goal is to run that airline down anyway and replace it with offshore-based airlines?
How many times have we heard this story?