The Guardian January 26, 2003

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Letters to the Editor:

Qantas the rogue corporation

Qantas is using the prospect of war in the Middle East to make more 
staff cuts. They've always got an excuse. The 2001 terrorist attacks in the 
US was the excuse for cost cutting by airlines around the world. One month 
after the attack Qantas announced a $1.5 billon buying spree for new planes 
and a pay freeze for its staff, then over the following 18 months threw 
1000 of its staff out of work.

This time it intends to cut the equivalent of 1500 full-time jobs through 
the non-replacement of workers who resign (attrition) and forcing staff to 
take holiday and long service leave. It has warned its workforce of more 
direct job cuts if the US and its handful of hangers on actually start a 

All this is on top of huge profits  Qantas had a record half year net 
profit to December of $352.5 million  and its $514 million takeover push 
for Air NZ. This disgusting a list goes on and on.

The attack on its workers is in fact part of a $1 billion cost cutting 
exercise planned for the next three years, regardless of oil wars or any 
other upheaval.

Its chief executive Geoff Dixon, while demanding that Qantas workers accept 
wage freezes and job cuts, in 2002 rewarded himself with a "performance 
bonus" of $1 million on top of his $1.45 million salary. And Qantas 
forecasts another record net profit of $600 million by the end of the 
financial year in July.

As the unions representing Qantas workers have pointed out, the once 
publicly-owned airline is now yet another ruthless exploiter of labour. The 
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has noted that "this is the same 
airline that was telling us prior to the last bargaining round that it was 
a disaster time for them".

Every time the unions are negotiating with them they are having a crisis, 
be it terrorist attacks or the threat of war. This time Qantas slipped the 
planned cuts to a newspaper: sure beats the hell out of negotiating with 
the staff.

Qantas is a rogue corporate giant trying to have absolute dominance of 
Australian and New Zealand air travel. This war with other airlines for 
monopoly domination means someone's got to pay, so Qantas is mowing down 
its workforce.

Like all the other privatised and partly privatised services such as 
Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas has gone from a major contributor 
to Government finances to a money-making machine for a handful of ultra-
rich major shareholders. The only thing they "contribute" to the country is 
more unemployed.

Nathan Barnes
Brisbane, Qld

A side issue about the war
At the moment we have in Australia one of the worst droughts in our 
history. Last year and the years previous the world has seen some of worst 
floods in living memory.

Environmentalists and, to use John Howard's latest clichi many would argue 
that these calamities were caused by changes in the ozone layer.

I would suggest that the amount of pollution caused by the Gulf War and the 
blanket bombing of Kosovo would be a major contribution.

If there is a war in Iraq it also will cause major pollution, and you can 
put plenty on that Saddam Hussein will fire all his oil fields. Look out 

K J Manski
Howard Springs, NT

Block the Budget
Led to the brink of an unnecessary and unwanted war, by stealth and 
without a mandate, why should Australians continue to put up with the 
Howard Government?

Why wait until the next election comes around  at the end of 2004 or 
later  to vote this subservient Government out?

The explanation is that our political system has no effective method to 
pass a No Confidence Motion in the Government and force it to resign  
other than blocking the Budget in the Senate.

That is in fact an entirely legitimate measure and the opportunity comes 
along again in May/June.

The vote on the Budget is not just a vote on the Government's financial 
record and plans but on all its activities, nationally and internationally.

The ALP and the Democrats should review their decidedly unhelpful, 
counterproductive positions on this issue or remain in the wilderness.

Yes, the political system needs a shake-up. Do not fear it, create it. That 
is what political leadership now is about.

Klaas Woldring
Pearl Beach, NSW

Anthrax vaccinations
Defence Minister Robert Hill claims that anthrax vaccinations are 
perfectly safe. If this is truly the case why doesn't he lead by example 
and have himself, John Howard, Alexander Downer and the rest of the crazy 
cabal vaccinated?

Gareth W R Smith
Byron Bay
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