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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 war. 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
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 farmers. K J Manski
Howard Springs, NT
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
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 SmithBack to index page