• Submitted By: alsydney
  • Date Submitted: 10/14/2015 10:08 AM
  • Category: Business
  • Words: 7547
  • Page: 31

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A Case Study of the Role of Collective Bargaining in Corporate Change - Qantas
Airways Limited1

Jim McDonald and Bruce Millett
Department of HRM and Employment Relations
University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
Against a background in the past decade of significant contextual changes, including the
deregulation of the airlines, the privatisation of Qantas, and the merger of Australian
Airlines, Qantas Airlines Limited has undergone significant organisational change. This
change has not been characterised by a linear progression but by fluctuations between
traditional organisational structures focussed around industrial relations and HR functions
and organisational units headed by change agents specifically recruited to head the change
process. These latter executives integrated cultural change strategies through training
functions focussing on customer service with alternative organisational forms such as
contracting out and competitive tendering. These changes may be seen in terms of
productivity oriented strategies. A further imperative complementing these processes was
the objective of reducing labour costs. Many of the issues arising from these change
processes are industrially sensitive. Throughout the period Qantas continued negotiating
with trade unions. Indeed, collective bargaining played a crucial role in establishing the
protocols for putting in place many of these radical changes to Qantas. The present
industrial relations climate gives Qantas some advantage, but it also raises the question of
whether the airline will continue to support the collective bargaining process in an
environment where some corporations are adopting individual contracts and eschewing
collective bargaining.
Key words: Collective bargaining; strategy, organisational change; industrial relations;
human resource management; change agents.


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