Claim Qantas organised notices days before lockout

Drivers were booked to deliver notices to thousands of Qantas staff days before the airline was grounded and staff were locked out, employees at a courier company say.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says he made the decision to immediately ground the entire Qantas fleet on Saturday October 29 because he believed industrial action by three unions was slowly killing the airline.

Shareholders, customers and employees were caught by surprise, but two drivers from Direct Couriers have added fuel to suggestions by several senators that the move was pre-planned.

They have told ABC's Lateline program drivers were booked to deliver lockout notices to at least 6000 Qantas staff in the days leading up to the announcement.

"I was asked on Friday (October 28)," said the first courier, who remained anonymous.

"We were told they had a one-off job on Sunday and we would start at 6am.

"We weren't told we might have a job, we were told we had a job."

The second courier said: "On the Thursday I was asked if I wanted to work Sunday - an all-dayer.

"We were told we could work any area we liked and it was delivering letters."

Their employer declined to comment.

Earlier this month Transport Minister Anthony Albanese suggested the opposition had colluded with Qantas in an "orchestrated campaign" prior to the fleet being grounded on October 29.

It fitted the coalition's industrial relations ideology, which was about increasing employer militancy and denying employees industrial democracy, Labor backbencher Doug Cameron told parliament.

Labor senator Alex Gallacher, a former baggage handler and TWU official who is on a senate committee that has been questioning Mr Joyce, says the logistics of the exercise would have required pre-planning.

"I don't think there are enough couriers active on a Sunday, which is traditionally a slow day in transport, available at the drop of a hat to suddenly activate such a comprehensive delivery schedule," he said.

Mr Joyce has dismissed the comments as "conspiracy theories".

"We have been very clear on this and there's been lots on conspiracy theories, the printers were booked on the day that we made the decision, and no notices had been ordered in terms of printing, and nobody had been informed of it because the decision wasn't made until the Saturday (October 29)," he said.

On Monday negotiations between Qantas and the three unions, the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers' Association (ALAEA) collapsed, leaving the sides to face binding arbitration before the industrial relations umpire.

The airline and the unions had 21 days to try to find a resolution, after being ordered into talks by Fair Work Australia (FWA).

The deadline for those talks officially ended at 2am this morning.


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