Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

ETU Secures Back pay for Downer Apprentices

- Thursday, October 22, 2015

Downer recently made the decision to move six apprentices from their construction division to their servicing division and in doing so attempted to reduce four NECA Group apprentices pay by five dollars per hour.

ETU Organiser Steve Bankes stepped in and the ETU not only secured the higher pay rate for all six apprentices we also won five weeks back pay for the four NECA apprentices delivering more than $1,000 per apprentice.

“This is a good little win we have had for these apprentices and is a really good example of how it pays to be an ETU member.” said Steve Bankes.

“We were not only able to secure the higher pay rate for all six apprentices but we effectively stopped the company from having two tiered pay rates for apprentices in their servicing division – being one rate for direct employed apprentices and a lower rate for group training apprentices.”

“Downer also agreed to back pay the four apprentices impacted which will see each apprentice receive in excess of $1,000 each.” Steve said.

“I perplexes me why some employers continue to penny pinch from apprentices when these young guys are already doing it tough and struggling to keep their head above water.”

"What we do know is that Downer intend to reduce apprentices pay in the future through the EBA process but we will fight this move to protect our apprentice members."

“This should be a warning to all construction bosses – go after apprentice rates and the ETU will come after you.” Steve said.

NECA Refusing to pay EBA rates

- Friday, August 07, 2015

The ETU has negotiating on your behalf for an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) with NECA GT. This EBA will set the wages and conditions of employment for the next four years.

A meeting was held on Wednesday 3 June 2015 with bargaining representatives including one representative from the ETU. At this meeting the ETU did not put together any claims, as we hadn’t had time to formulate any claims on your behalf.

On Wednesday 10 June 2015 the General Manager of NECA GT, Tom Emeleus wrote to you saying “we have met with the nominated Bargaining Representatives and have drafted a new Agreement”. He implied that the Agreement has been finalised and that NECA GT intends to put it out for a vote. A VOTE, when we haven’t even provided a Log of Claims or bargained on your behalf!

As a result, we lodged a dispute with the Fair Work Commission (FWC), on the sole basis that we have not yet bargained or provided a Log of Claims. A meeting was scheduled with Deputy President Lawrence of the FWC for 29 June 2015.

At the conference meeting the following process was agreed and endorsed by DP Lawrence.

  1. The CEPU will provide to NECA Group Training (NECA) its concerns/issues with respect to the current draft agreement, in writing by COB Friday, 3 July 2015.
  2. The CEPU will provide to NECA any additional claims, in writing, by COB Friday 10 July.
  3. The parties will meet on Wednesday, 15 July 2015.
  4. The matter will be listed before the Commission at 2pm Thursday, 23 July 2015.
  5. The ballot shall be put on hold during this process.

All steps of the agreed process were followed by the ETU and as a result, we have managed to negotiate some good outcomes on your behalf.

Since the initial FWC hearing we have had three lengthy EBA negotiations with ETU representatives from NSW, QLD, ACT and the National Office involved. Also an additional conference hearing was held at the FWC. We have been able to negotiate a number of good clauses on your behalf, which I will list below.

Negotiated for you, by the ETU.

  • Site Allowance Clause – linking site allowance to Host Employer’s Agreement
  • Compensation for Loss of Tools Clause – $376
  • Social Day/Picnic Day – an extra paid day off
  • Mandatory Training Costs – will be paid
  • Protective Clothing – will be supplied including prescription glasses if required
  • Supervision Clause – to ensure safe, adequate and effective training
  • Women in Industry Clause – recognising the low participation rates of females in our industry and ways to redress this
  • Annual Leave – additional leave for shift workers
  • Recall to work – increased from 3 hours minimum payment to 4 hours minimum
  • Multistorey Allowance Clause
  • Inclement weather clause – including up to 32 hours per week paid
  • Relationship to National Employment Standards (NES) Clause – you will receive the better of the NES or the Agreement
  • Consultative Committee – including provisions for apprentices from outside of the Sydney Metropolitan area
  • Paid Crib Break after 10 or more hours of work
  • You will no longer be expected to unpack tools and materials prior to the designated work starting time

HOWEVER!!! There are a number of things that NECA GT are refusing to put into the Agreement, these are listed below.


  • NECA GT are refusing to put a Clause in the Agreement linking Host Employer EBA rates of pay to NECA Apprentices. NECA claim that the current practice is to pay host rates, and this seems to be true in most cases (not all). They are obviously planning to change this at some point and put you back down to Award rates or else why would they be so determined to leave such a clause out!
  • They are refusing to put a clause in the Agreement linking the Award to the Agreement. The Award sets out the very minimum rates of pay and working conditions that must be paid/applied to an apprentice. The reason they don’t want it in is because the proposed draft Agreement doesn’t meet some of those basic conditions. NECA GT can vary the probation period of an apprentice for as long as they like, where the Award says it must not exceed 3 months. They have a clause which puts restrictions on allowances so you will not receive all of the allowances in the award such as First Aid Allowance, Towers Allowance or any other additional allowance that may change if the Award Varies. The Award says you will be paid a meal allowance if you have not received 24 hours’ notice of doing 2 or more hour’s overtime, the Agreement does not.
  • They are refusing to pay 3% above the top tier of the Award for Apprentices working with a non-EBA Host.
  • Refuse to take a Clause out of the Agreement which forces you to use RDO’s if work is not available
  • Refusing to guarantee Income Protection for all Apprentices, although have adopted a clause that says “Income protection will be paid by the Company for all apprentices where practicable”. In other words, they don’t have to pay it at all
  • NECA GT refuse to remove a Medical Examinations Policy, in where you must see their doctor even if you have clearance from your own doctor
  • Refuse to pay for downtime, rather have a clause saying that “Employees may be stood down without pay” as a result of A breakdown of machinery, Industrial action or a stoppage of work for ANY CAUSE for which the company cannot reasonably be held responsible
  • Refuse to pay above Award Rates for any allowances including Living Away From Home Allowance, Multi-Storey Allowance, Compensation for Loss of Tools, Travel Allowance, Fares Allowance and Meal Allowance. Our Claims are in line with Industry Standards and they are flat out refusing to go above the Award with any of them
  • Our claim of Fares and Travel Allowances are almost identical to NECA GT’s except that they will be paid to all apprentices regardless of where they start work or TAFE. NECA will only pay if you meet certain criteria and will not pay if going to TAFE

It is because of these reasons we are still urging you to VOTE NO to the proposed Agreement if they put it out to a vote.

There are a number of things that you can do to help achieve better wages and conditions for yourselves.

  1. Join the ETU today to stand up and fight for your rights
  2. VOTE NO to proposed NECA Agreement unless you hear from us
  3. Tell everyone at TAFE and Work to VOTE NO to the Agreement
  4. Notify us immediately if NECA GT put out any documents/correspondence/letters of any description regarding the Agreement.
  5. Join our campaign on facebook www.facebook.com/StandUpforApprentices

We have a further meeting with the FWC on Thursday 6 August and will update you after this meeting. At any stage you are encouraged to contact an ETU Organiser near you for further details.


If NECA GT refuse to:

  1. Pay Host Employer EBA Rates VOTE NO
  2. Pay 3% above the Award for non-EBA Hosts VOTE NO
  3. Pay Income Protection Insurance to ALL Employees VOTE NO
  4. Recognise that the Award is the MINIMUM they have to pay VOTE NO

ETU Contacts

Mark Burgess 0438 732 301 / Ben Lister 0400 264 007 / Mick Koppie 0400 844 741


Rally against ChAFTA

- Friday, July 17, 2015

The ETU is supporting national rally's in all capital cities against Tony Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement that will see aussie workers worse off.

The China FTA allows Chinese companies investing more than A$150 million to import temporary workers without testing if local workers are available, and allows Chinese companies to sue our government for damages if changes to our laws have a negative impact on them.

A Parliamentary Committee is taking evidence about the China FTA over the next month. The ETU want to make your voice heard, by bringing our flags, banners and members together to send a message to the Australian Parliament that we do not support Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Rally outside the Sydney Committee hearing, Friday 31 July, 12 noon, meet outside NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney and bring a friend.

Stop the China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

- Thursday, July 16, 2015

You may have heard that just a few weeks ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed off on the China Free Trade Agreement that will allow Chinese based companies to import their own labour.

Abbott's free trade agreement also removes the requirement for mandatory skills assessment for ten occupations including: Electrician (General), Electrician (Special Class), Automotive Electrician. ALL OTHER occupations will be reviewed within two years with the aim of reducing or eliminating the need for skills assessments.

The ETU is fighting to STOP THE CHINA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT by raising this as a public issue before two parliamentary committee's consider the issues. In order to come into effect these parliamentary committees must sign off on it.

TAKE ACTION TODAY - visit the Australian Unions website and email your MP


NECA working to minimise apprentice pay & conditions

- Thursday, July 09, 2015

The ETU is fighting to get a better deal for NECA Group Training Apprentices.

We recently surveyed NECA GT apprentices who responded by highlighting that apprentices want a better deal when it comes to pay and conditions.

The ETU is preparing our log of claim for the NECA GT EBA. Don't be fooled by the spin from NECA that  they are your friend - it is NECA that are trying their hardest to undermine apprentice pay and conditions. The ETU - your union - are the only ones fighting for a better deal.

BEWARE: If NECA decide to put a non union endorse agreement to a vote all NECA apprentices should vote NO and back the union for a better deal. By sticking together we will win.


ETU fighting for a better deal for NECA Apprentices

- Thursday, July 02, 2015

The ETU took NECA to the Fair Work Commission last Monday to argue that NECA have not been bargaining in good faith when it comes to a new EBA for NECA Apprentices. Commissioner Lawrence recommended that both the ETU and NECA meet to discuss the unions log of claim on behalf of NECA Apprentices - this meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday 15 July.

Now that the ETU has been successful in getting NECA to the negotiating table we are asking ALL NECA APPRENTICES to complete this online survey to assist the union in formulating your final log of claim.

The ETU wants to see NECA apprentices secure an agreement that improves their pay and conditions by reviewing the current pay structure and pay levels, inclusion of income protection insurance, Host employer EBA rates to be paid (if they are higher)when NECA apprentices are working on EBA sites, increases to allowances and fair annual pay increases.

This is where YOU come in. We want NECA apprentices to tell us what is most important to you. Please complete the survey below and make sure you let your work mates know to do the same.


if you have any questions please contact ETU Organiser Ben Lister on benl@etunsw.asn.au or 0400 264 007.


* Required

NSW Apprentice Forum with John Kaye

- Friday, May 29, 2015

Apprentices are some of the most exploited workers and students in Australia. Most apprentices have stories of poor working conditions, unfair dismissal, and being paid below minimum wage.

At this free public forum you will hear from a number of speakers explaining what the state and federal government are doing. This will be your opportunity to tell the Greens and others what you want us to do to stop the exploitation and remove many of the difficulties you face.

Thursday 11 June, 6:30 pm
Club Ashfield, 1-11 Charlotte Street, Ashfield

Speakers include

  • John Kaye, Greens NSW MP
  • Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator
  • Rita Mallia, State President, Construction & General Division, NSW Branch CFMEU
  • Phill Chadwick, President NSW TAFE Teachers Association
  • Mark Burgess, National Apprenticeship Officer, Electrical Trades Union

All welcome. Refreshments to be provided.
RSVP to john.kaye@parliament.nsw.gov.au
For more information Ph: 9230 2668

Don't forget to like, join and share the facebook event here.

Protect yourself - make sure you are financial

- Thursday, May 07, 2015

We’re not talking about glasses and gloves. We’re talking about protecting your rights to ‘have a say’.

With the looming EBA negotiations we are urging all members to make sure that they are financial in case the proverbial ‘hits the fan’ as it did three and a half years ago. How would you feel if there was a protected action ballot and because you were a few months behind with your fees you had to walk past your work mates and go into work while they’re making a stand for better wages and conditions?

Being a financial ETU member is a great way of protecting yourself at work. The ETU are out there fighting for members across the construction sector every day of the week on important issues including EBA negotiations, safety, apprentice rights and licensing issues while also holding unscrupulous bosses to account.

But this is not the only protection we offer to members. All financial ETU members also enjoy Journey Cover Insurance supplied free to all members. This protection was taken away from ordinary workers by Barry O’Farrell back in 2012 meaning if you have an accident on the way to or from work ordinary workers are on their own, but not if you are an ETU member. The ETU came to the party offering members free Journey Cover Insurance meaning we have you covered.

New Law Solicitors – the ETU’s own law firm has you covered for all manner of legal issues, whether it’s family law, conveyancing, discrimination cases, wills, industrial law or litigation so they have your back covered. As they’re a union owned law firm the first consultation is free and further representation is at a fraction of the normal cost of other law firms.

Following feedback from members the ETU has recently introduced new Funeral Cover for members who pay their fees by direct debit. This provides ETU members and their families peace of mind knowing that if the unthinkable happens the ETU is there to help those left behind.

On top of all this the ETU also offers fantastic holiday cabins. The kids can let off some steam as you kick back on the beach, or wet a line and let the stress levels drop as you forget the cut and thrust of the construction site. Our only advice when it comes to the ETU cabins is to book early as our Nambucca Heads cabins proved extremely popular with members.

ETU recruitment officer Steve Bankes is here to help members who’ve fallen behind with their fees, get back on track. If you have fallen behind get in touch sooner rather than later as the construction industry EBA is approaching fast and only financial ETU members can participate in any campaign or action.

Steve Bankes will be visiting sites every day. Feel free to approach Steve at the next mass meeting or if you want to chat or talk about membership please call Steve on 0414 877 553.

You can JOIN THE ETU ONLINE. You can also SIGN UP FOR DIRCT DEBIT to make sure you qualify for the ETU's new funeral benefits. 

Workers are stronger when we are all together – make sure you’re a financial ETU member and enjoy POWER IN UNITY.

Construction workers deserve the same rights as all other workers

- Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Abbott Government have introduced legislation in the federal parliament that will see the Fair Work Building Construction Inspectorate retain coercive power which were set to expire at the end of May.

In 2012 the Gillard Government abolished the Australian Building Construction Commission, the ABCC and replaced it with the Inspectorate falling under the Fair Work Commission.

They also put in place an expiry date for coercive powers which treat construction industry workers differently to every other worker by compelling construction workers to produce information, documents or evidence at investigations into suspected breaches of the Fair Work (Building Industry) Act or other building laws.

These coercive powers remove the basic right to privilege against self–incrimination and effectively force workers to give evidence in investigations against colleagues and themselves or face severe penalties.

Under Gillard's changes these powers were set to expire at the end of May but now the Abbott Government is trying to keep them in place by introducing legislation to extend the coercive powers of the building inspectorate.

We are asking ETU members in the construction industry to take action by writing to Labor Senator Sam Dastyari who has a track record of standing up over issues such as this while working with cross bench and other Senator’s to make sure legislation is properly scrutinised.

Please download the pre-formed letter below, complete your details and either post the letter to PO Box 717, Randwick NSW 2031 or you can cut and paste the text into an email or scan the letter and email it to senator.dastyari@aph.gov.au

Click here to view the letter.

NECA caught out under paying apprentices, AGAIN!

- Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NECA, the National Electrical Contractor's Association has once again been uncovered paying apprentices less than what's applicable in the host employers Enterprise Agreement.

It came to light just before Christmas and has been going on for months. This time it's at host employer FDC Technologies where apprentices who are employed by NECA are being paid substantially less than those from Electrogroup and My Gateway who are being paid the rates in the FDC Enterprise Agreement.

The difference in rates is up to 25%.

Despite numerous attempts by the apprentices to have NECA address the issue, they have refused, blaming FDC instead. As one tradesmen at FDC Technologies said, "It's just plain mean, especially at Christmas time!".

Organiser Stewart Edward said, "The ETU is calling on NECA to amend the rates immediately and back pay the apprentices in line with My Gateway and Electro Group."

"It's time NECA showed some leadership and Christmas spirit rather than acting the Grinch!".