Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Working in Heat

Paul Lister - Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 

                       
TEMPRETURE
DETAILS
0-28C

Continuous work with normal breaks.

28-38C

Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.

38C+

Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).

Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Harvard to deliver strong leadership for ETU

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ETU Secretary Steve Butler last week left for Boston, Massachusetts where he will attend the Harvard Trade Union Program as a part of the Unions NSW delegation. The course, sponsored by Unions NSW, is aimed at developing union leaders to deal with the ever changing environment that’s unions and their members face.

The course, Preparing Leadership for the Challenges of the Future, being run between January 6 and February 14 is open to about 40 union leaders from around the globe and helps to develop managerial and organisational skills for union leaders when dealing with the complex nature of union governance and administration.

Some of the areas of study covered include: Strategic Planning for Unions, Leadership and Organisational Change, Union Governance and Administration, Lessons from Labour History, Dispute Resolution and Arbitration, Public Sector Labour Relations, Labour Law, New Tactics for Union Organising, the Global Economy and Unions and New Technology.

While Steve is away Assistant Secretaries Neville Betts and Paul Sinclair will oversee the day to day running of the NSW Branch.

National Licensing Aborted

Paul Lister - Friday, December 20, 2013

COAG have announced that they have officially aborted the National Licensing model covering electrical and other trade based licenses. 

Following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.
 
To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.

Click here to read the full COAG statement.

Click here to read the letter from NSW Fair trading to the ETU NSW.

97.7% Eastern Tree's members support agreement

Paul Lister - Friday, December 13, 2013

The 2013 Eastern Tree Services EBA has now been endorsed by members with an overwhelming majority of ‘Yes’ votes. After the votes were counted 97.7% of those that voted supported the agreement

The Agreement will now got to Fair Work Australia for approval and certification, this process will take approximatly a month. This finalises a process that began in early 2013.

The final agreed outcome is a 3 year deal that delivers,3% in the first year (already paid), 4% at July 1 2014 and 4% at July 1 2015, Income Protection/Top Up insurance, Clarity on Travel Arrangements and an ongoing commitment to Depot based employment.

The fact that the vote was almost unanimous around NSW indicates that it’s a good outcome.

A big thankyou the members and delegates that were involved in the negotiation and provided constructive ideas and comment, particularly those members that were part of the negotiating team.

Also thank you to ETU Organisers for their hard work and persistance including Geoff Prime, Mick Doust and Adam Wardrope.

Wormald Newcastle secure first ever union agreement

Paul Lister - Tuesday, December 03, 2013

ETU members working for Wormald in Newcastle are celebrating after securing their first ever union agreement that will deliver superior outcomes to their wages and conditions over the next three years.

Among the conditions secured include an improved classification structure with better progression opportunities and a review process providing ETU members with a strong secure future with the knowledge that future opportunities are available.

In addition to this members will receive an annual wage increase of 4% per year for the next three years, 24hr Top Up Insurance with the policy attached to the agreement, CPI increases to all allowances per year for the life of the agreement and a union delegate and training clause.

This agreement represents the first union agreement for Wormald in Newcastle and will form a strong base for the future. Congratulations to all ETU members on a great outcome.

ADT Security members win after first union agreement

Paul Lister - Friday, November 22, 2013

In February this year security technicians employed by ADT Securities (a Tyco company) contacted the ETU to seek advice regarding the advantages of a union endorsed EBA verses a non union EBA.

After meeting with all the techs to discuss the differences between the two options 100% of the security techs at ADT Securities joined the ETU.

Some months ago the union commenced negotiations on behalf of the workforce with management in what would be the first union agreement ever at ADT Securities.

Although the negotiations were been lengthy, members stuck firm and the outcome has been exceptional.

The new ETU union agreement contains exceptional wage increases and increases to the on call allowance along while also delivering better defined experience levels for the security industry.

In previous years under the non-union agreement workers at ADT Securities had received nothing more than CPI increases to wages.

A big congratulations to all ETU members at ADT Securities who now understand the power of unity.

Canberra Construction Update

Paul Lister - Friday, November 22, 2013

Rates of Pay for the Construction Industry.

The contactors that built the ASIO building, 4 National Circuit, Manhattan Apartments and the other big Government and private jobs have been snookered.

The “second level” players came into the market to fill the gap left in apartment building works.

I am being kind by calling these guys “second level”. They are the residential/small commercial contractors who put in prices on jobs the big companies didn’t have the staff to work on. The “second level” companies got the work with unbelievably low prices.

The ETU has been visiting sites and discovered how:

  • Low wages (award).
  • 40 hour week every week (no RDO) illegal under National Employment Standards.
  • Apprentice ratios.
  • Safety and Job admin compliance.
  • Training additional to trade training.
  • Working out of their garage.
  • Keeping the ETU and workers apart.

The ETU doesn’t begrudge any “rising star” companies competing. Far from it - the licence allows any electrician to become a contractor. But the result of some behaviours is:

  • Potential Safety Breaches
  • Injury “cover ups”
  • $300+ per week not being paid to workers
  • Less super for workers
  • Builders expecting up to 15% discount on previous tenders
  • The “race to the bottom” for wages and conditions
  • Redundancies and closure of the big players.

We can thank these "second level" companies for eroding pay and conditions won by ETU members.

There is no reason why a Contractor can’t quote a reasonable price and pay their workers properly.

The ETU and the guys need to talk to the boss and get a proper rate of pay and conditions. Join the ETU and lets fight for fair pay and conditions.

Any Canberra construction sparkies needing assistance can contact ETU Organiser, Mick Koppie.

NSW legislation strengthens construction industry

Paul Lister - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Building and Construction Security of Payment Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced to the NSW parliament last week. This is the first piece of reform stemming from the 2012 Independent Inquiry into Construction Industry Insolvency chaired by Bruce Collins QC.

The Collins Inquiry made a number of recommendations mainly relating to payment practices in the contractual chain between principal/owner, head contractor and subcontractor, including:

  • Introduction of Trust Accounts for money paid by a principle to a Head Contractor for Sub Contractors.
  • Prohibition of Head Contractors would be prohibited from accessing any of that Trust until all subcontractor payments have been made
  • Maximum time of 28 days for payments to be made from a Head contractor to a Subcontractor
  • The creation of a Building and Construction Commission with responsibility for control and regulation of all aspects of the Industry (including licencing) similar to the Queensland model.
  • Penalties for making false statutory declarations.
  • A disputes board to be set up for major Government contracts to handle, among other things, payments to subcontractors

These and other findings from the inquiry would deliver a lot more security for subcontractors and potentially help limit the number of contractors who end up insolvent.

Unfortunately the O’Farrell Government has been slow to move on the recommendations from the Collins Inquiry, which was released back in January, and this piece of Legislation would have only introduced a guarantee of a maximum thirty day period for the payment of progress claims. The Labor Party have been successful in amending the legislation in the NSW Upper House and it now includes the provisions for the Trust accounts to be established for retention money.

Eastern Tree Services EBA Offer

Paul Lister - Friday, November 08, 2013

Yesterday the Union met with Senior ETS management to progress the EBA discussions.

The outcome was an offer of a 3 year agreement with Annual increases of 3% x 4% x 4% compounding each year.

ETS also offered Income Protection for all employees.

This is an offer from the Company that needs to be endorsed by employees following production of a draft document by the Company which is then distributed to employees for a minimum of seven days before it can be voted on.

The ETU will consult with management re the voting process and venues for the vote. This will allow the Union to endeavour to get officials to the various locations in NSW for the vote.

This outcome has been negotiated over a protracted period of time and represents diligent work by your delegates. It is important to remember that more members will equal better outcomes.

Join your union today.

IGT Poker Machines Back Pay

Paul Lister - Friday, November 08, 2013

Members working for IGT Poker Machines would be aware of the discrepancies relating to the past payment for overtime and rostered on call periods.

To recap, the issue of past pay discrepancies was raised by members at IGT and as a result the union contacted management who appointed an “independent” auditor. Following an audit some members were advised that they in fact owed the company money from working overtime and on call – a situation that was just ridiculous.

Following the report from the “independent” auditor the ETU sought legal advice and discovered that their report is flawed and calculations incorrect.

The ETU met with management a month ago about this issue and proposed a number of remedies and the company gave an undertaking to consider the union’s proposal and get back to us.

IGT have now advised the ETU that they are recalculating the underpayments however, should the company return with an unsatisfactory outcome the union will apply to undertake an inspection of the wages book and take all action necessary to recoup what you are owed.  

On another matter IGT is now trying to impose a new roster which we know will simply not work. Under your award IGT must first get your agreement to implement these changes and for this reason we are advising member to follow clause 10 of the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010, which says:

 10 Dispute Resolution

10.1 In the event of a dispute in relation to a matter arising under this award, or a dispute in relation to the NES, in the first instance the parties will attempt to resolve the matter at the workplace by discussions between the employee or employees concerned and the relevant supervisor. If such discussions do not resolve the dispute, the parties will endeavour to resolve the dispute in a timely manner by discussions between the employee or employees concerned and more senior levels of management as appropriate.

10.2 If a dispute about a matter arising under this award or a dispute in relation to the NES is unable to be resolved at the workplace, and all appropriate steps under clause 10.1 have been taken, a party to the dispute may refer the dispute to Fair Work Australia.

10.3 The parties may agree on the process to be utilised by Fair Work Australia including mediation, conciliation and consent arbitration.

10.4 Where the matter in dispute remains unresolved, Fair Work Australia may exercise any method of dispute resolution permitted by the Act that it considers appropriate to ensure the settlement of the dispute.

10.5 An employer or employee may appoint another person, organisation or association to accompany and/or represent them for the purposes of this clause.

10.6 While the dispute resolution procedure is being conducted work must continue in accordance with this award and the Act. Subject to applicable occupational health and safety legislation, an employee must not unreasonably fail to comply with a direction by the employer to perform work, whether at the same or another workplace, that is safe and appropriate for the employee to perform.

Should our members NOT agree with the introduction of this new roster the ETU is available to assist in pulling together a roster that meets the needs of both our members and the company.