Qantas accused of underpaying workers up to $10 million

Qantas is facing fresh underpayment allegations from engineers.

Qantas Airways will fight underpayment allegations in the Federal Circuit Court after the engineers' union accused the airline of skimping $325,000 from workers.

The statement of claim filed with the court this week captures 20 licensed aircraft maintenance engineers. They say the airline failed to progress them through the graded wage structure laid out in their enterprise agreement.

Qantas is said to owe one engineer more than $56,000, and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers' Association says there is more strife to come.

"The total amount of wage underpayments may amount to over $10 million," ALAEA federal secretary Steve Parvinas said. However, Qantas strongly rejected this figure.

He told The Australian Financial Review there were 1000 more ALAEA members at Qantas who had yet to have their pay audited. Further, the figures in the statement of claim did not include unpaid super or shift penalties.

Mr Parvinas said the court action was one of last resort, after previously informing Qantas of potential underpayments in January last year that went back to 2013.

The court action is the latest in a string of underpayment scandals rocking corporate Australia. In 2019 alone, household names like the ABC, Woolworths and Commonwealth Bank have admitted to underpaying workers.

Qantas joined that group in February in a separate issue where 55 workers were underpaid and then reimbursed. At the time, the airline said the error leading to the underpayments had also resulted in it overpaying more than 160 workers.

The Federal Circuit Court will hear the matter during its first court date on February 17 in Sydney.

Source and full article: Australian Financial Review 15/11/2019

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