Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Last night ETU and AMWU members working at Kone in Newcastle voted unanimously to continue industrial action in their fight to secure an enterprise agreement.

Kone, who pay their workers under enterprise agreements across the entire country with the exception of Newcastle, are refusing to extend fair agreement conditions to ETU members in Newcastle. This has resulted in ETU and AMWU members taking prolonged industrial action to secure a fair outcome.

ETU Organiser Justin Page has been supporting the guys throughout the fight with the group growing more resolved to secure an agreement.

"If Kone don't want to come to the party ETU members have made it clear that they will continue their action." said Justin Page.

At the same time as voting for ongoing industrial action this group of dedicated members also sent a message of support to our brothers at the ETU Victorian Branch who are continuing their fight with CUB.

 

Dear Colleague

Below you will find a link to a copy of the ETU NSW submission to the NSW Government’s approach to deregulating the apprenticeship system, the ETU NSW Branch submission was lodged Monday afternoon.

CLICK HERE DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE SUBMISSION.

The ETU NSW Branch has sought the assistance of the McKell Institute in preparing the submission.  The McKell Institute formulated the response based on industry commentary from bosses, the Union, TAFE teachers & regulators.  There is also generous input from the training industry.

Concerns about many issues are included. Here are just a few:-

  • Registered Training Organisations providing dummy training or no training at all.
  • The capacity for workers to enter Apprenticeships as independent contractors or casuals.
  • Continued reduction in face to face theory education.
  • Use of apprentices as cheap labour and supervising each other.
  • Bullying of apprentices by bosses and some tradesmen.
  • Wage rates that are so low apprentices are finding it difficult to survive.
  • Trade outcomes reduced with less rigor on the Trade.
  • Less rigor on the Trade means it’s easier to get an Electrical License and that means our Trade is undermined.

This is our biggest fight ever and I will be ensuring that we develop and initiate a campaigning approach to this matter.

Please read the report thoroughly and hold meetings in your workplace to bring the issues to the attention of your workmates. Please use the elements of the report to talk to apprentices and get them to join the campaign and join the Union.

Please feel free to forward the report on to as many of your acquaintances as you can – workers, bosses and trainers alike.

The ETU NSW Branch are going to campaign strongly on this issue and your assistance and support will be essential.

In unity

Steve Butler
Secretary

 

Solidarity Sips - 21 September

Posted on 20-9-2016

ETU members working at Parliament House in Canberra along with other building maintenance workers are preparing to vote in a protected action ballot in order to take industrial action after negotiations with the Commonwealth Government stalled.

Parliament House building maintenance workers will join thousands of other Commonwealth public servants including Border Force, Immigration, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Tax Office and Defence in taking industrial action in an attempt to secure a fair agreement outcome.

 ETU Organiser Matt McCann said that the offer made by the Department of Parliamentary Services would result in a cut to take home pay of more than 17%.

“The department have put an offer on the table, which if accepted, would result in a reduction in the take home pay for ETU members.” Matt McCann said.

“Our members are joining a growing list of Commonwealth public servants taking industrial action as a result of the Liberal National Government continues their attack on hard working honest Australians.” Matt said.

“If this industrial action goes ahead we will not be able to guarantee that the lights of Parliament House will stay on which could potentially shut down our national legislature.

“Our members perform an important role at Parliament House ensuring that the building continues to operate 24 hours a day in some cases while providing a safe workplace for our nations decision makers and politicians.

“It’s time that the Turnbull Government deliver a fair outcome or risk working in the dark.” Finished Matt.

Read coverage of this issue in the Canberra Times.

Dear Members,

On Monday 26th September we will be attending a Fair Work conciliation conference before Deputy President Bull at 2pm at the Fair Work Commission, William St Sydney. The conference was applied for by FXA and is supported by the ETU in accordance with the mass meeting that was held on Monday 29th August 2016.

The conference will seek assistance from President Bull on resolution of the outstanding matters of;

1. The inclusion of a Status Quo provision as part of the Dispute Settlement Process that maintains the working arrangements that were in place prior to a dispute until the dispute is resolved and 
2. An improved travelling time clause which recognizes the extensive time delays incurred by technicians when travelling across the FXA service area.

By nature this conciliation process is non-binding on both parties but often can have a positive effect on resolving outstanding issues.

We will be putting the case that these things are matters of great consequence for our members and to that end we intend to represent your interests with an optimistic view and open mind on the matters but in a forthright manner which argues the case as to why these measures are absolutely necessary.

If members are willing to attend the conference it is always a valuable experience for our membership and also adds value and transparency to the process to actually have real workers at the hearings - please contact me if you are interested.

Finally, if you are fortunate enough to have benefited from what your colleagues and their activism in the union have done for you over many years of agreement negotiations and representation and you are still not in the ETU, why not do the right thing ? Join in the collective effort to help you and your mates.

Please go to the website and join today. There is never a better time to get with the strength and join your union.

In Unity
Mark Buttigieg
markb@etunsw.asn.au / 0417 208 447

Bizarrely, the Fair Work Building Commission (FWBC) is now playing an astonishing role on construction sites in NSW. The ETU has been made aware from concerned parents regarding apprentices who have been targeted by the FWBC.

Following a number of visits by ETU organisers, apprentices have chosen to join the ETU. These apprentices have raised a number of concerns including:

  1. Intimidation and bullying by employers
  2. Lack (sometimes none) of supervision
  3. Underpayment of wages
  4. Forced to work in unsafe areas
  5. Apprentices being employed by companies but not registered as apprentices
  6. Apprentices being summarily dismissed by employers
  7. Apprentices not being paid to attend TAFE
  8. Apprentices receiving electric shocks while working LIVE!
  9. Failure to notify Safework of serious and dangerous incidents (electric shocks)

In fact, the list goes on. The recent campaign by the ETU has found significant failings in NSW in regards to employer’s attitude and treatment of apprentice electricians. Unbelievably, the FWBC is not interested in pursuing any agenda to protect apprentice electricians. It would also appear that the National Electrical Contractors (NECA) who represent many of the dodgy bosses has called the FWBC to pursue ETU officials while ignoring the actions of their members who are engaged in illegal activity and putting young apprentices lives at risk.

The ETU has learned over the last few weeks that the FWBC has decided to visit sites where ETU construction officials have attended. The FWBC inspectors have then accessed the personal information of these apprentices (and other Electricians) without their knowledge or consent and using their phone numbers contacted them. Apprentices and their parents have informed the ETU that apprentices have been interrogated over the phone and in some cases approached on site.

The FWBC hasn't asked any questions about the wellbeing of the apprentices or advised of their rights to join the ETU. Unsurprisingly the FWBC has set out on a fishing expedition, accessing personal phone numbers to see if they have been forced to join the ETU. The fact is electrical apprentices have rushed to join the ETU to raise concerns, and find out about their rights.

Remarkably, the FWBC inspectors have also sought to encourage workers and apprentices to leave site (while they are still working) to meet in cafes, to have a "friendly chat".

"This is an outrageous abuse of power from the Fair Work Building Commission.” Said ETU organiser Stewart Edward.

“How can it be that, if union officials were to behave in this way that both the worker and the official would be found guilty of taking illegal industrial action and fined for such action." Stewart said.

Many Australians are still unaware of who the FWBC are, and alarmingly, have no idea that the last federal election was actually called by the Turnbull Government to give the FWBC even more power.

"The new powers, if passed by the Senate, will mean the Fair Work Building Commission will be replaced by the discredited Australian Building Construction Commission and all workers in construction including, electricians and apprentices, will not have any right to silence, and in fact, if they refuse to appear before the Australian Building Construction Commission they can be sent to jail for 6 months" Stewart Edward said.

Stewart's advice to electrical apprentices is join the ETU, find out your rights, get organised and remember, you do not have to speak to the Fair Work Building Commission. If you are contacted in any way seek advice from your Union, the ETU, prior to responding to the FWBC.

The FWBC should stop harassing apprentices and focus on the dodgy bosses and NECA who would have more credibility if they stopped defending the outreagous behaviour of their members.

 

The Electrical Trades Union was notified by a member of the public that a tower crane working on a Sydney construction site belonging to builder Brookfield Multiplex came into contact with 415v powerlines last Saturday.

The member of the public also notified SafeWork NSW of the incident which occurred at the Saint Patricks Green aged care construction site located on Chapel Street, Kogarah however SafeWork NSW failed to attend the site.

The eye witness told ETU Organiser Stewart Edward that the crane’s chains came into contact with the power lines which resulted in an explosion including arcing and a loud bang. Workers on the form deck were seen to jump and move away from the area when the incident occurred at approximately 8.15am.

Upon attending the site the ETU found that the powerlines in question did not have the necessary “tiger tail” insulation which would have made seeing the wires near impossible.

ETU Organiser Stewart Edward contacted Brookfield Multiplex management to raise concerns over notification of SafeWork NSW, danger of the powerlines and ongoing work at the site. It was the ETU’s view that work should cease until an inspector from SafeWork NSW attended the site. The ETU reached agreement with Brookfield Multiplex management to report back to workers about the incident on Monday morning.

ETU Organisers Fred Barbin and Anthony Stegic attended the site on Monday morning, spoke with workers and inspected paperwork relating to the breach but to their astonishment SafeWork NSW still had not attended the site.

Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 notifiable incidents must be properly investigated by SafeWork as the states safety regulator. This is yet another example where the regulator has chosen not to attend and investigate a serious safety breach that could have resulted in injury or death to workers or a member of the public.

“It is totally unacceptable for SafeWork NSW to allow a builder to investigate their own serious incidents or dangerous incidents without the attendance and involvement of SafeWork NSW safety inspector.” Said the ETU’s Stewart Edward.

“WHS Laws allow for action to be taken in situations like this but SafeWork NSW continue to allow the industry to effectively self-regulate which in my view will someday result in a tragic outcome.

“To add further insult Safe Work NSW have reverted to sending out a pro-forma email indicating that they have received notification of a possible safety breach, that they will not be attending the site and that the builder can proceed to “disturb the scene”.” said Stewart.

“Serious questions need to be asked following this latest incident including details of the development application, safe work procedures around powerlines in close proximity to construction sites and why these high voltage powerlines were not insulated at the very least.” Stewart said.

Following the ETU’s last notice outlining just how well Aristocrat are doing financially, largely as a result of a highly skilled and committed workforce including machine technicians, management are going to move ahead by circulating a draft agreement for employees to vote on.

Management have increased their offer following the ETU’s notice last week but it is now up to members to decide if this deal is good enough. The ETU recognises that the wage offer has increased from the original 2% but we will let members decide if the deal is good enough.

Below is an update on what management’s new offer/draft agreement is likely to include.

It’s up to Members to Decide.

The ETU Will respect the view of members. If you vote to accept this agreement the ETU will be party to the agreement and we will continue to represent you in the workplace by making sure any new agreement is enforced.

If members vote to reject the agreement, we will return to the negotiating table with your negotiating committee/delegates and seek to secure an improved offer.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of your delegates or ETU Organiser Ben Lister on 0400 264 007 / benl@etunsw.asn.au

On Friday 19th August ETU members conducted a 24hr stoppage and during that time a mass meeting was also held to discuss the progress of the EBA negotiations. At that meeting it was resolved that the outstanding issues of inclusion of status quo in the Dispute Settlement Clause and Travelling Time still needed resolving before an Agreement could be settled. In a bid to reach an outcome and recognize the company’s concerns with the current Dispute Settlement Clause clause being proposed by the ETU, it was decided that a compromise form of the status quo provision be put the company. The words proposed would more clearly restrict the circumstances under which status quo could be invoked. In terms of travelling time, members remained unhappy with the current FXA proposal based on the lack of recognition of time it takes to get to jobs which are inappropriately allocated too far away from technician’s homes.

Today the negotiating committee met with management and they rejected the compromise clause put regarding status quo which would have restricted the invoking of status quo only to circumstances where the company introduced change which had a major effect on a majority of employees. Fuji Xerox rejected the proposition citing examples such as if FXA wanted to make employees redundant or if the parent company dictated a new process or policy, then status quo would hold this up. On the issue of travelling time Fuji Xerox were unwilling to accept a compromise and maintained their most recent offer of 15 minute incremental start time concessions for every 25km travelled outside the district boundary.

Given the stalemate, the company stated that it wished to apply to the Fair Work Commission for assistance via conciliation and undertook to maintain the current offer in full, on the condition that all industrial action cease. The negotiating committee took the view that this process may be helpful but that we could not confirm our agreeance with this until we have consulted our members at a mass meeting.

To that end there will be a mass meeting held at 4pm on Monday 29th August at Rosehill Bowling Club to discuss the proposal. All members are expected to attend. This is a management approved meeting to discuss the above proposed way forward and all members are expected to attend.

If you are not in the ETU and you want to do the right thing and join in a collective effort to help yourself and your mates – CLICK HERE AND JOIN THE ETU TODAY ONLINE.

Last week the ETU bought together delegates from the lift industry to discuss issues effecting the sector. Delegates from all the major lift companies were present with ETU Organiser Steve Bankes also attending.

Some of the key industry issues raised included:

  • Single person / 2 person tasks.
  • Introduction of technology into the sector affecting employees including – GPS Tracking, Finger print (vein) entry to buildings and security of personal information.
  • Electrical licensing.
  • Apprentices, including – licensing, E-Profile sign off if only doing lift industry electrical work rather than general electrical work.
  • Asbestos in lift motor rooms.
  • Industry deaths in New Zealand.
  • Motion put forward to hold an annual industry wide mass meeting of all members
  • Training for Delegates, and
  • Support for the CUB workers in Victoria.

ETU Organiser Steve Bankes said that the meeting was productive and engaging with delegates driving discussion around issues that affect all ETU members in the sector regardless of who they work for.