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RAAF Richmond maintenance workers reject pants offer with small pay rise

written by Jake Nelson | May 5, 2023

C-130J Hercules inside the Airbus maintenance hangar at RAAF Base Richmond. (IDefence/CPL Casey Forster)

The Australian Workers’ Union has ridiculed a proposed deal to give 100 aircraft engineers at RAAF Base Richmond an extra pair of pants to break a negotiation deadlock.

Airbus Australia Pacific has offered each of the C-130 Hercules maintenance workers a pair of work pants per year to entice them to accept a 2.5 per cent per year wage rise for three years. The AWU says the engineers have not seen a pay rise in 18 months despite 7.8 per cent annual inflation.

The European aerospace giant said in response it’s engaged in discussions with employees and working with them to achieve a “positive and fair” resolution.

AWU NSW Branch Secretary Tony Callinan has called the pants offer a “new low when it comes to negotiating in bad faith in this industry”.

“The CEO of Airbus pockets $5.5 million annually, and King Gee work pants go for $55 at Lowes. That’s 100,000 pairs of pants. These aircraft maintenance engineers like Hard Yakka, but this is ridiculous,” he said.


“Management are truly flying by the seat of their pants if they think these engineers will cop this deal. I’ve never seen a company spend eight months stonewalling in negotiations, and the only concession they make is a pair of pants.

“The idea that workers would accept a dud deal because they are getting a pair of duds is laughable and insulting in equal measure.”

Airbus has locked the workers out of RAAF Richmond as industrial action continues following the rejection of the 2.5 per cent pay rise by workers in November last year, with the union saying it is less than half the rate of inflation and a pay cut in real terms.

Callinan says the offer is “pathetic”, pointing out that the deal is worse than what has been given to similar workers in other states despite the higher cost of living in Sydney.

“In exchange for another pair of overalls annually, they are asking C-130 Hercules aircraft engineers to accept a pitiful 2.5 per cent pay rise, which is well below industry standard, which at a minimum is running at 3.1 per cent,” said Callinan.

“Airbus haven’t altered their position at all during eight months of negotiating. All they’ve done is change the way they present their figures to make it look like they are moving, which is basically just being deceptive, oh, and they’ve also offered the pants.”

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