TWU’s national secretary was re-elected to a new four-year term and vowed to “curb the Qantas dictatorship”.
Michael Kaine said his victory alongside assistant Nick McIntosh was a “strong endorsement” of their strategy to raise standards for all workers.
“Brave aviation workers shook the business community and defeated Qantas not once, but twice in federal court over their illegal layoffs,” Kaine said.
“It’s a steep climb, but workers are ready to take on a challenge to rebuild aviation and free the industry from the grip of ruthless executives who are lining their own pockets at the expense of workers, passengers and the Australian taxpayer.”
Kaine was referring to TWU’s victory over Flying Kangaroo in federal court, which ruled that Qantas had wrongly outsourced 2,000 ground handling duties.
“Last year we saw thousands of transport workers stand up and face the threats to job security created by the unregulated gig tsunami,” he added.
“We are seeing the unity of transportation workers reflected across the industry, with supply chain customers, gig companies, major transportation companies and industry groups joining forces with workers to demand reform for a fairer, safer and more sustainable transportation industry.
“It is a privilege to lead a union that will not back down in our mission to save lives on our streets, raise industry standards and end unfair, exploitative tactics used to pit workers against one another.”
Kaine began his career with the TWU NSW Branch in 1999 as an organizer responsible for owner trucking drivers and leading worker action to protect enforceable standards for trucking workers in the state.
He later served on the Gillard Labor Government’s Safe Rates Advisory Group, which established the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
Deputy National Secretary McIntosh said: “There is a stir within the industry, and particularly among our members, that we are on the verge of reviving transportation from an industry that was all but abandoned by the previous administration and is hanging by a deadly thread thriving industry where everyone involved can thrive.”
The couple’s tenure was not without controversy. In September 2020, TWU gathered outside Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s private home to protest. The union said the dramatic action was necessary because “there is no other way to communicate with him”.
The TWU is currently pushing for a return to multi-employer collective bargaining and, crucially, allowing workers to strike on behalf of workers from other companies.
“It’s not about an uncontrolled upward spiral of wages and conditions,” Kaine said.
“It’s about saving the economy from full fragmentation, where workers have no power (and) where the companies that employ them have no commercial power to dictate their future.
“It’s not good for economic growth. It’s certainly not good for making sure workers get a share of the economy.”