Latest development in the 2016 leave burn saga. I wanted to recap where the cases are and will explain in layman’s terms. For legal reasons I just want to declare that this explanation by no means encompasses my full understanding of the circumstances or understanding of the cases, it is simply a brief translation to make it easier to understand. Attached is Qantas’ list of submissions (their reasons for not allowing me access to documents) which is quite legalistic but is well worth a read to see how far the airline are stretching the imagination to prevent us ultimately reaching a successful conclusion to the matter.
Back in 2016 we say that Qantas were not allowed to have a leave burn program because certain events (such as the new reconfig section) altered the makeup of manning and any surplus. Some of these matters also occurred without consultation. We say that in doing these things, Qantas did not comply with the Enterprise Agreement and therefore leave they forced upon LAMEs should be re-instated. At the time we had members sign declarations about a potential breach and hand them to their managers so if they continued to go through with leave burn illegally, the individual managers would be complicit in any breach we could establish. Ultimately it would be a decision of the courts if the leave would be re-instated, a possibility but by no means certain.
First step to establishing a breach of Agreement would be to run a court case on it. In order to run the case, you need documents to prove your arguments. To get the documents, the Fair Work Act provides for a certificate to be issued to union officials to enter the premises and gather evidence. A step I took in June 2017. Qantas refused to give many any document and in doing so, made it impossible to run the full leave burn/failure to consult breach case. In refusing access to documents, we believe they broke the law and are running a prosecution case in the Federal Court against Qantas and the two managers who refused the documents (Chris Tobin and Nick Saunders). The purpose of the case is to get the airline and managers fined, hopefully to send a message not to do this again, and to have the documents released so we can run the case proper.
My affidavits and case submissions have gone in stating why the documents should be released. Qantas has now presented their reasons for preventing access and in my opinion, some of their excuses are bordering on the ridiculous. They claim that the wording of the legislation that allows my access refers to singular documents that I can access, not plural. Although it doesn’t say this, what they mean is that my request to access “the daily workload sheets for Sydney Aircraft Maintenance for each of the days in the previous six weeks” is not a proper request because I didn’t name each day individually.
They also press an argument that I could not have known if any documents I wanted released were relevant to a suspected breach because I had not seen the documents to know if they were relevant. The entire purpose of the provisions of the Act would be pointless if you couldn’t access a document unless you already had it, or at least seen it and could remember every word. Having read their arguments (about 15 of them) for refusing access, I cannot see any argument that would likely succeed in us winning this first case to have the documents released. Worst case scenario, if the judge is convinced that some technical error was made, I will just correct the error and enter again. We will get our hands on these documents and then run the case proper.
Just as a side, I’ve been reviewing the letters members handed to their managers in 2016 to see how many managers were notified that they were partaking in steps that were illegal and what fines could apply to them personally. A blank copy of the declarations is attached. The following managers received these letters from a or some members – Dave Perks, Mark Stanton, Sam Panagiotopoulos, Chris Tobin, Grant Bartlett, Nick Gouras, Graeme Johnson, Mathew Docanto, Malcolm Ramson, Jeremy Hill, Domenic Vavala, Mark Austin and Steve Fenech. Further updates will be issued as matters slowly progress.