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The buzz is strong in Qantas halls that the financially troubled Australian air carrier could axe up to 3,000 jobs which will be revealed next week as the company seeks to reduce costs by $2 billion.
The cost-cutting measures are in response to the $300-million half-year loss previously reported by the Flying Roo.
However, Qantas declined to confirm the report of the job cuts but said it would make a major announcement on Thursday. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce had hinted of hard decisions to be made for the embattled airline as the aviation industry waits for its half-year results on Thursday, while rival Virgin Australia would release its results a day after.
The Sydney Morning Herald cited its source that the job cuts would also hit engineers and pilots, with the numbers reaching the thousands, although no definite figure was cited.
Ahead of the Qantas announcement, Linda White, national secretary of the Australian Services Union which represents about 8,000 Qantas employees, said the union would fight for every job. The union members include ground and check-in workers, telemarketers, IT and middle management officials.
Qantas, which has 33,000 employees, just severed its long code-share alliance with South African Airways for the Australia-Johannesburg leg by May, adding to fears of job cuts.
In December, Mr Joyce said Qantas would axe at least 1,000 jobs in 2014.
Responding to the speculations of job cuts which would add to Australia's worsening unemployment problem, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that while he wants the flag carrier to success, like every other private enterprise in the country, it has to put its house in order first.
"It's important that it does so. There are plenty of signs that Qantas is serious about putting its house in order and I'd encourage them to get on with that particular job," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted the PM.
Mr Abbott's statement earned the ire of Transport Workers' Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon who retorted, "What the Prime Minister has said is, forget about the fact you can afford to have an ethical business that looks after its workforce. It's unbelievable for a Prime Minister of any persuasion to encourage a company to cut jobs."