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Never seen pants used as a negotiating tactic!

May 5, 2023

Aircraft engineers at a RAAF base in Sydney have been offered a pair of pants as a sweetener to break a deadlock in stalled pay negotiations.

The 100 engineers, who maintain the C-130 Hercules at the Richmond RAAF base, have been offered the extra pair of work pants annually to entice them to sign a substandard deal which offers them a pitiful 2.5% a year for three years.

The aircraft maintenance engineers, employed by Airbus Australia Pacific, have not received a pay rise in 18 months as negotiations have dragged on despite inflation running at 7.8% annually.

AWU NSW Branch Secretary Tony Callinan says he’s never seen pants used as a negotiating tactic.

“Workers won’t be dacked while executives trouser obscene pay,” says AWU NSW Branch Secretary Tony Callinan.

“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.

“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.

“Offering workers an annual set of work pants is a new low when it comes to negotiating in bad faith in this industry.

“Employers issue workers with work pants because they’re required to under the Work Health and Safety Act and this mob are trying to make out it’s a win for the workers, it’s pretty pathetic.

“Airbus is asking highly skilled aircraft engineers to accept a dud deal worse than their colleagues doing the same work in places like Townsville, Darwin, and Oakey, despite Sydneysiders having a far higher cost of living.

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

“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.

“I have never seen a major company negotiate in such bad faith as Airbus has over the last six months, it’s been really eye opening.

“Our members are proud of their work on Australia’s fleet of C-130 Hercules and they refuse to be taken for mugs.

‘If Airbus want to keep treating their workforce so disrespectfully they are willing to fight for what is right.

“We hear so much about our military’s readiness to fight a war with China, and here we see they can’t even cut a sensible pay deal with their aircraft engineers,” says AWU NSW Branch Secretary Tony Callinan.

Workers at the RAAF base have begun industrial action at the Richmond RAAF base, and in response Airbus has locked the workers out as the dispute goes into a death spiral.

The C-130 Hercules military aircraft are the workhorse of the Australian military and transport troops and cargo all over the world.

Maintenance engineers overwhelmingly rejected the offer when Airbus put their dud deal to a vote in November 2022.

A 2.5% pay rise is less than half the rate of inflation and is a pay cut in real terms.

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