Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Apprenticeships, Traineeships & Electrical Licensing Under Attack

Paul Lister - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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

 

Fair Work Building Commission target apprentices and coerce workers to walk off building sites.

Paul Lister - Friday, September 16, 2016

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.

 

ETU NSW throws financial support behind sacked CUB workers

Paul Lister - Friday, August 19, 2016

The NSW Branch of the ETU/CEP has donated $10,000 towards the fighting fund to support the 55 sacked CUB workers in Melbourne who are members of the ETU and the AMWU.

On top of this NSW construction industry members chipped in a further $2,000 out of their own pocket while an AMWU/ETU fundraiser last Wednesday night saw another $5,000 raised bringing the total to almost $20,000.

ETU Secretary Steve Butler said that the actions of CUB were un-Australian which is a far reach from a company that trades so heavily on what it is to be an Australian.

“As an act of solidarity these funds will be provided to help support the effected workers and assist their campaign for full re-instatement” said NSW Secretary Steve Butler.

“This is what being union is all about, standing united and supporting each other in times of need.”

“I have personally visited the picket line in Melbourne and I have meet these workers and understand what they are going through as a result of this bastard act from their employer.”

“I am proud of our membership in NSW for stepping up to the plate to support our brothers and sisters in Victoria during this dispute.” said Steve.

“I encourage all members, their families and friends to consider supporting other brands when next visiting the local bottle shop.” Steve said

CUB Fundraiser - Wednesday 17 August

Paul Lister - Monday, August 15, 2016

ETU Secures more than $2,000 in underpayments for Electrical Apprentice.

Paul Lister - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The ETU has secured more than $2,000 in underpayments for a Sydney based Electrical Apprentice after it was discovered his employer was paying him less than the award rate.

The first year apprentice was employed by Halkat Electrical Service over a period of 8 months where the apprentice was paid at the rate of $9.85 an hour when the award rate for a first year electrical apprentice is $11.07.

Over the 8 month period the electrical apprentice was under paid $1,971 in wages and additional $145 in lost superannuation.

Recently the ETU has drawn a line in the sand in the construction and contracting sectors with a zero tolerance approach to dodgy bosses when it comes to member’s rights, conditions and workplace safety.

ETU organiser Fred Barbin who handled the matter said that it is possible other electrical apprentices could be in the same boat.

“My message to electrical apprentices is join your union, know your rights and double check things because bosses will rip you off at the first possible opportunity.” said Fred.

“This apprentice member eventually got what he was owed but it was only because the ETU got involved and force his employer to pay through legal intervention.”

“In the end the ETU took decisive action by notifying principle contractors on sites where Halkat Electrical Services was engaged forcing the boss to pay the apprentice what he was owed.

“Without the help of the union it is likely that this electrical apprentice would never have got his money which is an example of why it is so important for all workers to join their union.” said Fred.

If you are an electrical apprentice, electrician or electrical worker and you suspect you are not being paid correctly you should contact the ETU on 02 9267 4844 and we have one of our organisers assist you.

Building Trade Group - Delegates Meeting

Paul Lister - Friday, June 10, 2016

ETU Construction Delegates attended the Building Trade Group of Unions this morning along with our brothers from the CFMEU, AMWU, Plumbers and TWU...

We must fight to stop the Liberals & Nationals attacks on construction workers through their draconian ABCC.

Apprentice electrician rushed to hospital following serious fall at Barangaroo construction site

Paul Lister - Thursday, May 05, 2016

A first-year electrical apprentice has been rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital following a fall of approximately five metres at the Barangaroo construction site in Darling Harbour.

The incident occurred shortly after 8am today when the apprentice fell through a temporary floor cover over one of the service risers.

The apprentice, employed by the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) Group Training company and working for Stowe Australia, was being supervised by another apprentice at the time of the fall. This second apprentice raised the alarm.

Officials from the Electrical Trades Union attended the site immediately following the incident and have already identified a number of other safety breaches, including workers being exposed to live electrical cables.

The builder, Lend Lease, has moved to stop all riser work in tower three until a review of the electrical contractor Stowe Australia has been undertaken.

ETU organiser Stewart Edward said that the apprentice suffered leg and back injuries.

“From what we know so far, the apprentice appears to have suffered leg and back injuries after calling approximately five metres,” Mr Edward said.

“He was treated on the scene by ambulance paramedics and has been transported to Royal North Shore Hospital.

“Thankfully, his injuries do not appear to be critical.

“Today’s incident is the latest in a string of safety breaches on the Barangaroo site, including some that have resulted in workers losing their lives.

“Both Stowe Australia and NECA Group Training have a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

“If it is found that they have breached their responsibilities it could lead to prosecution of both organisations, which is something we will be looking at very closely.”

The union informed SafeWork NSW, with inspectors attending the scene to carry out their own investigation.

“This incident could easily have ended with a tragic outcome,” Mr Edward said.

“The ETU will be pursuing this matter to ensure that this kind of incident does not occur again.”

 

ETU calls on Safework NSW to act over NECA’s ‘failure to notify’ of electric shock to apprentice.

Paul Lister - Thursday, March 17, 2016

On Tuesday 14 March at a John Holland’s site in Alexandria a young apprentice received an electric shock having been exposed to an energized electrical circuit.  The apprentice was employed by National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and was working with host company Barmwell Cambridge.

After suffering an electric shock the apprentice was taken to hospital and has since made a full recovery. Serious questions remain with regard to supervision of the apprentice and also the aftermath of the dangerous incident.

The Electrical Trades Union visited the site to investigate, this is the second time ETU organiser Stewart Edward has visited the site in the last month over safety concerns.  Unbelievably in both safety breaches neither the builder John Holland nor the contractors involved have notified the state regulator charged with overseeing the health and safety of workers in NSW.

John Holland assert that they are only required to notify the commonwealth regulator, Comcare.  John Holland management on site insisted that they are not responsible for notifying the state regulator that they only have to tell the contractor (or PCBU) to notify SafeWork NSW about a 'serious incident' or 'dangerous incident'. On both occasions it was the ETU who informed SafeWork NSW of the notifiable incident.

ETU Organiser Stewart Edward said that no one, including the apprentices’ employer NECA Group Training, had bothered to notify the safety regulator.

"When I phoned SafeWork this morning no notification had been received about the electric shock including from the apprentices’ employer".

John Holland management claimed that 3 people had attended the site to investigate the incident however it has been revealed that these 'inspectors' were actually from NECA and no-one from Safe-work NSW had attended the site.

John Holland has taken steps to have all apprentices cease work on the site until a full investigation is carried out by SafeWork NSW. The ETU is increasingly concerned about supervision of ap-prentices in the industry and is calling on SafeWork NSW to ur-gently address the current situation.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is very clear about “a person who conducts a business or undertaking” or PCBU. See below your rights regarding notifiable incidents.

38 Duty to notify of notifiable incidents
(1)  A person who conducts a business or undertaking must ensure that the regulator is notified immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident arising out of the conduct of the business or undertaking has occurred.
Penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$10 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$50 000.
(2)  The notice must be given in accordance with this section and by the fastest possible means.
(3)  The notice must be given: (a) by telephone; or

Example: The written notice can be given by facsimile, email or other electronic means.
(4)  A person giving notice by telephone must:
(a)  give the details of the incident requested by the regulator; and
(b)  if required by the regulator, give a written notice of the incident within 48 hours of that requirement being made.
(5)  A written notice must be in a form, or contain the details, approved by the regulator.
(6)  If the regulator receives a notice by telephone and a written notice is not required, the regulator must give the person conducting the business or undertaking:
(a) details of the information received; or
(b) an acknowledgement of receiving the notice.
(7)  A person conducting a business or undertaking must keep a record of each notifiable incident for at least 5 years from the day that notice of the incident is given to the regulator under this section.
Penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$5000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$25 000.

39 Duty to preserve incident sites
(1)  The person with management or control of a workplace at which a notifiable incident has occurred must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, that the site where the incident occurred is not disturbed until an inspector arrives at the site or any earlier time that an inspector directs.
Penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$10 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$50 000.
(2)  In subsection (1) a reference to a site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the notifiable incident.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No. 137, 2011 43

Incident notification Part 3 Section 39
(b) in writing.
 
Part 3 Incident notification Section 39
(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent any action:
(a)  to assist an injured person; or
(b)  to remove a deceased person; or
(c)  that is essential to make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable inci-dent; or
(d)  that is associated with a police investigation; or
(e)  for which an inspector or the regulator has given permission.

Apprentice numbers down as Liberals & Nationals gut TAFE

Paul Lister - Friday, March 04, 2016

The ETU is seriously concerned at the latest figures which show the number of people undertaking an apprenticeship - including in the electrical trades - has plummeted.

Shadow Minister for Skill's David Harris pointed out today that the number of apprenticeships being undertaking in September last year was 82,600 down from 146,200 in 2010.

This drop of almost 50% in five years is alarming. At the same time the ETU has witnessed a reduction in the quality of trade outcomes following the implementation of "Smart & Skilled" which has financially gutted the TAFE system and reduced face to face training time.

ETU Secretary Steve Butler said that this is a worrying trend which is not reversed will have severe consequences for all trades right across NSW.

"We have had feedback from many employers saying that the quality of apprentice training has dropped significantly." Steve said.

"On the job employers are seeing a drop off in the skills of apprentices particularly around competency and safety."

"The ETU has commissioned research into trade outcomes to help identify the problem and how it may be addressed."

"We have already started talking to MPs about changes and we will have more to say on this front later this month." said Steve.

Extreme Heat Forecast for NSW

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

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

All members must be aware of the dangers of heat stress and familiarise themselves with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy and 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).

 

Please use these links to access a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat policy (2003)Workcover 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.