Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made phone call to PM Julia Gillard but was ignored
- From: The Daily Telegraph
- October 31, 2011
Qantas sources confirmed yesterday Mr Joyce waited until five minutes before his decision to ground the fleet to hear from Ms Gillard, after attempting to contact her three hours earlier. It is understood that all it would have taken for Qantas to cancel the grounding was for Ms Gillard to declare all future industrial action illegal.
Sources said Qantas group executive Olivia Wirth called Ms Gillard's chief of staff at 2pm on Saturday and told him that Mr Joyce was standing by to talk to the Prime Minister. Mr Joyce had intended to give Ms Gillard advance warning of his intention to announce that he was grounding the airline's entire fleet and leaving almost 70,000 passengers a day stranded.
Mr Joyce's office was then in almost twice-daily contact with senior ministers' offices providing updates until the annual general meeting last Friday. With the engineers' union warning of extending their industrial action into next year, Mr Joyce called an meeting of executives to consider options for negotiating with the unions.
On Saturday morning, Mr Joyce convened another meeting with key executives to discuss lock-out options and a risk assessment for grounding the airline. At 10.30am the Qantas board gave unanimous approval for his plan to give 72 hours notice of a lock-out of striking unions and to ground the airline at 5pm. At 2pm Mr Joyce called Mr Albanese, followed by Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson and Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans. Mr Albanese was reported to have told Mr Joyce the move was "aggressive". At 3pm, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was notified.
After the announcement Mr Albanese and Mr Evans, Ms Gillard and three other ministers called a crisis cabinet phone hook-up where it was decided that instead of calling an immediate termination of the dispute, as allowed under the Fair Work Act, a request for termination or suspension would be taken to Fair Work Australia. That termination has now been upheld by Fair Work Australia as of 2am today.
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