Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Clarifying What is Electrical Wiring Work

Paul Lister - Friday, March 09, 2018

As a follow on from yesterday’s notice regarding unlicensed electrical work the definition of what is “electrical wiring work” is defined in the Home Building Act 1989 and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004.

It is clearly defined as the actual physical work of installing, repairing, altering, removing or adding to an electrical installation or the supervising of that work.

For the purposes of work that is undertaken by Endeavour this means that removing the neutral in a consumer’s board to undertake a polarity test must be carried out by a licenced electrician.

In unity,
Dave McKinley
Secretary

Unlicensed Electrical Work

Paul Lister - Thursday, March 08, 2018

It is of great concern to the ETU that Endeavour Energy are advising employees that Powerline Workers are exempt from qualification requirements to complete electrical wiring work on customer installations.

The Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 and the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2006 state that “electrical wiring work” and “electrical installation work” which are not part of the distribution network, need to be carried out by a licensed electrician and safety and compliance checks need to be undertaken in the form of a CCEW (Certificate Compliance Electrical Work).

On top of that the Electricity Supply Amendment (Advanced Meters) Bill 2016 removes the responsibility for electricity meters from distribution businesses. This clearly means that meter installations no longer form part of the distributor’s network connection assets. This was reinforced by The Hon. Rick Colless (Parliamentary Secretary) in Parliament.

The exemption that Endeavour continually quote does not allow powerline workers to undertake electrical wiring and electrical installation work on customer installations. This includes diagnosing faulty meters, removing meter tails and bridging out or bypassing meters all of which require an electrical licence and compliance check on completion. The safety and compliance test requirements also fall under the Regulations and require the person conducting the test to be qualified.

Further to that the Regulations state that a licenced electrician must advise the consumer of any “electrical wiring work” performed on the customer’s installation and a licenced electrician must document the tests and provide the owner of the installation with advice of the tests together with the results of the tests.

I must make it clear this is not about the skills and ability of lineworkers, this notice is to ensure that members are not put in a position where they are breaching legislative requirements simply because Endeavour has directed them to undertake the work. Our biggest concern is that should there be some form of incident resulting from this work, members may be held to be liable a court of law for breaching legislative requirements.

In unity,
Dave McKinley
Secretary

Strong majority of Ausgrid members vote in favour of offer.

Paul Lister - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Yesterday afternoon the Ausgrid EBA ballot was counted with almost three quarters of the workforce voting to accept the offer which delivers an immediate $1,600 cash payment and an immediate 2.75% pay increase to all ETU members.

The agreement, which will now be registered, includes pay increases totalling 7.5% over three years, no forced redundancy with caps in place post 2020, a $1,600 cash payment equivalent to an additional 1%-2% depending on each individual’s salary.

The official result of today’s ballot was:

YES  73%
NO    27%

ETU members should be proud of their colleagues on the negotiating committee who secured what remains one of the best industrial agreements in the country that furthers the interests of ETU members in the workplace.

The following items remain as important features of the agreement;

  • No forced redundancies with strict caps in place beyond 30 June 2020 in a post privatisation environment.
  • The agreement retains some of the best pay rates and conditions in the country.
  • 15% superannuation which interstate ETU distribution agreements - both private and public - can only dream of.
  • $1,600 up-front payment on top of 7.5% wage increases over the next three years.

Distribution agreements struck by other states under friendly Labor Governments have only been able to achieve annual increases of 3% with no cash payment. When it comes to 15% superannuation, a 20 year old NSW ETU member at Ausgrid will be more than $300,000 better off in retirement than if they worked for a distributor in any other state.

The overwhelming feedback from members has been that they are happy negotiations are over and they are looking forward to an immediate pay rise.

The ETU has always said that we support the democratic process which gave all members the opportunity to have their say while carefully considering the facts. The ETU has always said that if members rejected the offer we would escalate the campaign to secure additional benefits.

Some members may be disappointed with some elements of the outcome however this agreement will present a solid platform from which to build in 2021 and still delivers superior outcomes from other agreements around the country.

Following privatisation in other states the electricity distribution workforce was decimated with thousands of workers losing their jobs, we have dodged this bullet through strict caps.

Our job now, with the support of ETU members is to ensure that the detail of CCR scheme and its operation is fair and that employees have an opportunity for decent future career progression.

Personally, I would like to thank every single ETU member for your patience and understanding in what has been a long and very difficult negotiation. Our delegates deserve particular mention, in particular your negotiating delegates who worked tirelessly and forcefully to secure an agreement that three quarters of the workforce support.

As always I am available to answer any questions you may have.

In unity,
Mark Buttigieg

Ausgrid EBA Voting Update

Bruce Fan - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Please find the latest Ausgrid video update from ETU organiser Mark Buttigieg reporting on Ausgrid EBA voting results.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417 208 447.

 

Payment of Entitlements by Formway

Paul Lister - Monday, March 05, 2018

The ETU has been made aware that Formway Group may have fallen behind on the payment of various entitlements including superannuation payments.

Your current agreement requires Formway to pay $115 per week into MERT redundancy trust. All members are also entitled to 9.5% superannuation – by law this must be paid into your chosen super fund on a monthly basis.

It is concerning that a company the size of Formway has chosen to fall behind in the payment of compulsory entitlements, particularly given these items must be paid by law and in accordance with the current enterprise agreement.

The ETU is advising all members to immediately contact both MERT redundancy trust and your chosen superannuation fund to find out when the last payment was made into your account and if your entitlements are up to date.

MERT REDUNDANCY TRUST: 1800 023 692

Once you have spoken to MERT and your super fund, if there are any underpayments please contact ETU Assistant Secretary Justin Page on 0414 877 301 or justinp@etunsw.com.au

There are also a number of employees at Formway that have not yet joined the ETU – with EBA negotiations due to begin it is imperative that we have maximum membership to ensure that we keep all current entitlements AND win a decent wage increase.

With potential major redundancy and super underpayments and looming EBA negotiations, there has never been a more important time to be an ETU member.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE ETU ONLINE TODAY!

In Unity
Dave McKinley
Secretary

SAFETY ALERT - TAKATA AIRBAGS

Paul Lister - Friday, March 02, 2018

Dear ETU Members.

Product Safety Australia, a division of the Commonwealth Governments Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, this week issued a product recall relating to Takata Airbags. This recall is compulsory due to significant safety risks and affects a large number of car makes and models and a small number of motor cycles.

THE ETU IS ADVISING ALL MEMBERS TO REVIEW THE LIST OF VEHICLE MAKES AND MODELS AFFECTED BY THIS PRODUCT SAFETY RECALL AND TO TAKE APPROPRIATE STEPS, UP TO AND INCLUDING REFUSAL TO DRIVE AFFECTED VEHICLES, UNTIL NECESSARY REPAIRS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED.

If your employer has any of the affected vehicles in their fleet you should first contact your supervisor to find out if the mandatory recall work has been completed or to report that your vehicle is impacted by the product recall.

The ACCC has advised the following:

It is critical that owners of cars with alpha airbags installed take immediate steps to have the airbags replaced because of the significant risk of injury or death involved in using cars with these airbags. All other consumers whose vehicles are on the full recall list are urged to arrange for the replacement of Takata airbags in their vehicles as soon as possible due to the safety risks involved in the use of these vehicles.

If you have any issues arising in the workplace relating to the operation of affected vehicles please immediately contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
Secretary

Ausgrid EBA Update - 27 Feb

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Members

The time has come to vote on the offer put forward by Ausgrid.

I want to say from the outset that the ETU negotiating team has done an outstanding job to get to the position we are in. The negotiations have been long and arduous and your committee has met every challenge thrown up at them in a highly professional manner.

Four years ago we were fighting to ensure that Government did not gain the ability to decimate the workforce down to unparalleled levels and strip away long held conditions such as the 15% super. The agreement that you are to vote on goes nowhere near what has been long threatened and in fact enhances some of your current conditions.

This EBA provides wage increases of 7.5%, which is close to what other states have delivered under friendly Labor Government's. In addition to the annual pay increases the proposed agreement also provides a one off payment of $1,600 per employee which represents an additional 1% to 2% in year 1 depending on each individuals salary. The Agreement locks in no forced redundancies until June 2020 and then caps future potential redundancy beyond the expiry date of the agreement. There are changes to the agreement, such as fortnightly pay, sick leave occasions without certificates and leave at half pay, the ETU does not and has never supported these items and your negotiating committee have fought to have them excluded from the final document however Ausgrid management have refused to take these items out. Never the less I believe that the agreement is the best that is achievable through the negotiation process and without a protracted industrial campaign.

All in all this agreement leaves members in a position where we have retained superior wages and conditions to other distribution companies around the country whilst ensuring that possible redundancies beyond the expiry of this agreement are kept to a minimum.

The following motion was passed at today’s delegates meeting, that sets out our position over the coming few days.

“This delegates meeting notes the majority support indicated by members for the proposed Ausgrid agreement. Accordingly the combined union delegates endorse the proposed agreement being put to a formal vote. In the event that the agreement is voted down the Union will notify of our intention to take protected industrial action. If the agreement is accepted it will be sent to the Fair work Commission for certification.”

Unfortunately I am unable to attend the Newcastle vote but I will address the Sydney meeting.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
SECRETARY

Union members to decide EBA direction at depot meetings next week

Peter Moss - Friday, February 16, 2018
We urge all union members to attend depot meetings being held across Ausgrid next week to discuss your EBA. This is your chance to have your say directly to management and to ensure your voice is heard by your unions.

Your views will determine the direction of our EBA campaign from this point – is the current offer from management good enough to vote on OR do we need an industrial campaign to fight for an improved offer? That decision will be made by you, our members, next week at these depot meetings.


Background of the document

on 14 February 2018, the negotiating committee met at Ausgrid HOB to finalise the agreement negotiations before Ausgrid circulates a complete document for mass membership consideration. The main elements of that document were detailed in the previous combined union notice dated 2 February and remain in place. This notice can be found at; http://www.etunsw.asn.au/power-water-and-utilities/industrial-action-on-hold-conditional-agreement-on-key-elements-negotiations-to-continue-members-to- At the meeting of the 14th, delegated authority was granted to union officials to finalise any last-minute drafting changes before the document is distributed by Ausgrid and sent to the lawyers. You should now be in possession of a copy of that document.

About the depot meetings

To explain the main elements of the agreement and to gauge member sentiment on the document Ausgrid has, at the request of the unions, agreed to a series of two hour paid depot meetings in the lead up to the final vote. At these meetings Ausgrid management will speak to all employees, without the union present, for the first hour. The second hour will involve union officials’ and delegates explaining the offer and taking questions from members without Ausgrid management present. A schedule of these depot visits appears on the last page of this notice. This process gives members ample opportunity to give feedback to Ausgrid Management and Union Delegates and Officials on the appetite for the Agreement.

What happens next

Delegates meeting to confirm members’ decision; the aim is that by the time a reconvened delegates meeting is held on Tuesday 27th February we will be in a good position to understand the sentiment of our members on the agreement and be able to recommend either an endorsement or an escalated industrial campaign in accordance with our FWC granted 30-day extension of industrial action. It is important that members understand that the agreement which has been distributed has been taken as far as possible by your negotiating committee and the officials. Any further concessions will require a concerted industrial campaign and that will be the subject of discussions during the depot tours. We strongly urge all members to attend these important EBA briefings as it will be the last chance to voice your feelings on the document before either a final vote for endorsement or industrial action. If you have any questions, please contact your workplace delegate or your organiser.

Mark Buttigieg
ETU organiser

Schedule of depot meetings




Ausgrid EBA negotiations - 5 Feb

Bruce Fan - Monday, February 05, 2018

Please find the latest Ausgrid video update from ETU organiser Mark Buttigieg reporting on Ausgrid EBA negotiations.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417 208 447.

 

INDUSTRIAL ACTION ON HOLD, CONDITIONAL AGREEMENT ON KEY ELEMENTS, NEGOTIATIONS TO CONTINUE & MEMBERS TO HAVE FINAL SAY

Paul Lister - Friday, February 02, 2018

PLEASE NOTE THAT WHILE YOUR CEO HAS JUMPED THE GUN TO GLEEFULLY CLAIM AGREEMENT HAS BEEN REACHED, YESTERDAYS MEETING PROVIDED CONDITIONAL AGREEMENT IN RELATION TO SOME KEY ELEMENTS OF AUSGRIDS OFFER, HOWEVER ALL EMPLOYEES WILL GET TO HAVE THE FINAL SAY AND VOTE ON ANY PROPOSAL ONCE FURTHER WORK HAS BEEN DONE ON WORDING WITHIN THE AGREEMENT.

LETS BE CLEAR: NOTHING IS AGREED IN FULL UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR SAY VIA A BALLOT.


Over the coming weeks the ETU will be seeking feedback from all members about the in principle position, we have also applied to the Fair Work Commission for a 30 day extension to the industrial action period....

Yesterday the combined union delegates met at Ausgrid HOB to discuss Ausgrid’s final Enterprise Agreement negotiated offer. In summary the offer consists of the following key elements;

Wages

  • $1600 upfront cash payment and a 2.75% wage increase on a successful employee yes vote.
  • 2.5% on the second anniversary of Agreement certification.
  • 2.25% on the third anniversary of Agreement certification.

Redundancy, Redeployment & Salary Maintenance

Up to 30 June 2020:

A one-off incentive payment of $75,000 for all people in redeployment as at September 2017, and anyone else who enters redeployment up to 1 January 2020.  Redeployees will have 3 weeks to accept or reject the payment.  Those who reject it will permanently lose entitlement to any such payment.

From 1 July 2020:

Up to 250 remaining redeployees can be made forcibly redundant if they do not take a VR.  Those who are forcibly redundant lose entitlement to the 8 weeks’ notice period payment.

From 2 July 2020:

A global cap of 250 for both voluntary and forced redundancies per annum, subject to consultation and processes of seeking VRs first. i.e. There can be no more than 250 redundancies per year of either forced and / or voluntary type.

Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets

Ausgrid have committed to take on 35 Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets per annum for the life of the Agreement.

Contracting out / Outsourcing

On top of the existing clause provisions, a consultative committee comprising unions and Ausgrid management will be formed to have oversight of any work that is contracted out / outsourced and input into Ausgrid’s preferred panel of contractors.

Consultation

Largely unchanged, however consultation will be necessary when a “significant effect” test as defined in the clause has been met.

Dispute Settlement Process

Time frames for dispute escalation have been included.  This measure ideally sees the dispute process expedited without unnecessary delay.  The inserted timeframes are, however, subject to extension by agreement of the parties.

The status quo provision still applies; however, it will apply when it can be shown to disadvantage the employee/s affected, or if the non-application of status quo during the dispute would bias the case for the dispute at hand.

Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) framework Appendix

The CCR framework is now in its third version and thanks to the negotiating delegates is far removed and improved from the original proposal.  That said, much work is needed on it before it comes into operation.  To that end, the current structure of the CCR is as follows;

  • CCR applies from December 2018;
  • Pay points at transition have largely been set;
  • The “Market rates” which were a feature of the earlier versions have now been abolished and pay rates have been set in line with current pay levels.
  • No one loses money on transition into the framework. Everyone is “grad parented” across to the new system in December 2018 on their rate of pay plus allowances at that time.
  • ESR allowance will be rolled in to the hourly rates and Electricians Licence will remain a stand alone separate all purpose allowance.
  • The inclusion of a “soft merit” appointment concept to facilitate a more streamlined career path where previous versions of the CCR contained too many “hard” merit appointment hurdles.
  • The Appendix is to contain tight consultation guidelines with respect to the development of the soft merit concept and the definition of what “meeting” and “exceeding expectation" will mean in practice.  This consultation will also determine the development of the Work Level Standards.  Work Level Standards won’t be altered as a means of halting progression or lowering pay and unions will have input into these Work Level Standards.

Other Agreement changes

  • Method of payment – people currently on weekly pay will be moved to fortnightly.
  • Annual Leave – Taking of Annual Leave at half pay will only be possible if;
    a) Your leave balance is less than 320 hrs = 40 days (i.e. you can’t have more than 2 years leave accrued to take Annual Leave at half pay and
    b) A minimum of 2 weeks annual leave at half pay is taken.
  • A one-off option to cash out annual leave provided you have a minimum Annual Leave balance of 160 hrs.
  • All Long Service Leave must be taken for a minimum period of 1 week or more. In order to take LSL at half pay you must have an LSL balance of 13 weeks or less. i.e; any accrual beyond the10-year amount cannot be taken at half pay.
  • Sick Leave occasions without a certificate for people with 5 or more years of service have been reduced from 7 occasions to 4 occasions. i.e. aligned with employees with less than 5 years’ service.

The above proposal was discussed at length and in detail, and various options were canvassed including protected industrial action. The meeting concluded with the following motion;

“That the meeting endorses the in principle offer subject to the following criteria;

  1. That the upfront payment of $1600 and the first 2.75% increase are payable on a yes vote of employees and
  2. That the unions retain the right to take protected action if necessary by applying to the Fair Work Commission for an extension to the protected industrial action period of 30 days in accordance with the Act”

It is important to note that the “in principle” endorsement means that the precise and final wording of the Agreement is yet to be agreed.

A report was also provided by Vera Babicheva from the PSA regarding family friendly clauses that Vera was instrumental in having included as part of the Agreement. Vera detailed that one of the outstanding issues was Ausgrid management refusing to accept a proposition for paid leave in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth situations. As a result, the following motion was unanimously endorsed;

The combined unions require that Ausgrid include a cessation of pregnancy clause in the enterprise agreement to protect workers facing situations of miscarriage or stillbirth. The cessation of pregnancy clause should provide that paid parental leave applies to pregnancies that pass 12 weeks’ gestation. The clause should also consider the application of compassionate leave to these situations. Ausgrid’s refusal to include a clause on cessation of pregnancy in the enterprise agreement is morally repugnant and unacceptable.

The resolution on 1 February regarding in principle agreement does not preclude further negotiations on gender equality issues raised by the PSA/CPSU. The combined unions support the claims of the PSA/CPSU and their resolution in the enterprise agreement.

Next Steps

Your negotiating team will now work to finalise the precise and final wording of all clauses including those associated with the CCR after which time another delegates meeting will be held to endorse the document and proceed towards a formal vote subject to final agreement between the parties.

During this period members will be availed of the complete package including the detailed and final CCR proposal.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members for their ongoing support and patience in what has been the most difficult and protracted Ausgrid negotiation in living memory. We would also like to thank all the delegates and in particular the negotiating committee in their tireless and intelligent effort which has significantly improved this agreement offer from was a totally unacceptable outcome to one which we believe does the job of moving us forward.

In Unity,

Mark Buttigieg - markb@etunsw.com.au
ETU ORGANISER