Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Tony Abbott's Building Code

Paul Lister - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Member Information Nights

Paul Lister - Thursday, May 22, 2014

The ETU in partnership with EISSNEW Law and RT Health are hosting a number of member information nights across the state commencing in June.

The first four information evenings will be held in NEWCASTLE, the CENTRAL COAST, SYDNEY and WOLLONGONG with a further eighteen meetings scheduled across the state.

ALL members from all industry sectors are invited to come along and hear from your leadership team about the challenges we face including industrial matters, campaigns and the latest developments in Superannuation.

Full details for the meetings in Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney and Wollongong including times, dates and venues can be found HERE.

A full list of regional locations and dates can be found HERE. Once times and venues have been finalised for these locations we will notify members.

Food and drink will be served. If you wish to attend please RSVP to Joanne Crowder on 02 9267 4844 or joannec@etunsw.asn.au

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.

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.

ETU Secure Apprentice Wage Increases

Paul Lister - Monday, August 26, 2013

The ETU was instrumental in the recent decision by Fair Work Australia to award significant increases to apprentice award rates of pay. The decision handed down on Thursday 22 August was the culmination of months of hard work coordinated and run by the ETU National Office.

In summary the key points covering the Electrical Contracting Award include:

  • Junior First year rate with year 12  - increased from 40% to 55% of trade
  • Junior Second year rate with year 12 - 52% to 65% of trade
  • Junior Third and Fourth year rates - unchanged (70% and 82% of trade)
  • Adult First year rate - 80% of trade
  • Adult Second year rate - minimum wage
  • Adult Third & Fourth year rate - the higher of the minimum wage or the junior rate

This decision represents a 37.5% pay rise for first year apprentices with year 12 (the rate is set at 50% of trades for first year apprentices without year 12) and we now have adult apprentices rates permanently and nationally.

Due to the size of these increases, there will be a 2 year phasing in period.

A copy of the full decision is available here.

Fair Work Apprentice Campaign Update

Paul Lister - Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Fair Work Commission has now finished hearing the ETU and other unions’ applications to improve wages and conditions for apprentices.  The Full Bench reserved its decision.

Background: What We (And Others) Applied For

Increasing award wages has been central to the ETU’s Apprentice Campaign.  To that end, as part of the two-yearly review of modern awards, the ETU applied to vary the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010 to:

  • increase award wages for junior apprentices from 40%/52%/70%/82% of the trade rate to 60%/65%/75%/90% of the trade rate;
  • provide that adult apprentices must be paid at no less than the lowest classification in the award and, if an apprentice is employed with the same employer prior to becoming an apprentice, be paid a wage no lower than the award rate applying to the classification in which they were employed;
  • require employers to pay for travel and accommodation costs associated with training; and
  • introduce new award obligations concerning mentoring, supervision, and recognition of service, as well as for the provision of two weeks’ notice prior to an employer applying to suspend or terminate a training contract.

The ETU also applied to increase apprentice wages and compensation for travelling to training under the Electrical Power Industry Award 2010 and the Telecommunications Services Award 2010, as well as to increase the lift industry allowance payable to apprentices under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010.

The ACTU, AMWU, CFMEU and CEPU – Plumbing Division also applied to vary other awards to improve conditions for apprentices.

A number of parties either applied to introduce competency based wage progression, or urged that it be introduced.  The ETU strongly opposed any variation to awards to apply competency based progression to electrical apprentices.

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) applied to vary the National Training Wage Schedule in all awards to try and exclude any existing payments to trainees to cover costs incurred in travelling to training.

Employers / Commonwealth Government

The union applications were opposed by a wide range of employer groups including: the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), the Electrical Contractors Association (Master Electricians); the AIG; Master Builders Australia; the Housing Industry Association; Australian Business Industrial; the Motor Traders Association; the Master Plumbers NSW and Victoria; the Coal Industry Employer Group; all State chambers of commerce and industry; and the Australian Federation of Employers and Industry.

Applications were opposed on a number of very technical jurisdictional grounds and on the merits of the claims.  NECA’s central argument was that, in the electrical contracting industry, the proposed increases, or any in fact increase, was not affordable.

The Commonwealth Government supported a “suitable increase” to junior apprentice wages, the introduction of rates of pay for adult apprentices and the union claims relating to employers paying for travel costs.  Although the Commonwealth Government strongly supported competency based progression, it also supported an exclusion for electrical apprentices.

Material Before the Full Bench

All applications were heard together over some 22 hearing days.  The case opened with oral submissions from Dave Oliver (ACTU Secretary); Peter Tighe; Andrew Dettmer (AMWU National President) and Dave Noonan (CFMEU – C&G Division Secretary).

ETU material in support came from all state branches and also included the Workplace Research Centre Report  “The Changing Situation of Electrical Apprentices”.  The ETU and NECA brought the largest amount of witness evidence, each with over twenty witnesses. Most parties also relied upon a substantial volume of survey results, research reports and other material.

What Result is Likely?

The Full Bench gave little express indication of its views on either the jurisdictional objections or the merits of particular claims.  A best guess might be that the unions’ wage related claims have a better prospect of success than some of the non-wage claims.  Any movement on wages appears likely to include a multiple entry wage rate for first year apprentices, for example the three level model based upon years of schooling presently contained in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010.  There is some cause for optimism that an increase of some kind might be granted.

The Full Bench gave no indication of when a decision might be made.  Again, a best guess might be that, given the very substantial volume of material before the Commission, a decision could be published in 6 to 8 weeks.

If the Fair Work Commission does grant substantial wage increases to apprentices, it is very likely that they will be transitioned.

What Now?

It is proposed that the apprentice committee be reconvened to be given the opportunity for a more comprehensive report concerning the proceedings before the Full Bench and to plan the next stages of the Apprentice Campaign.

$7000 back pay for apprentice after NECA's gets it wrong

Angela Lordan - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Apprentice Craig Stewart received almost $7,000 in backpay after his employer relied on incorrect advice from employer group NECA.

Craig served the third year of his electrical apprenticeship in 2012, but was paid at the second-year rate by Electrical Board Makers.

The St Marys-based company froze the young worker’s pay after he failed two TAFE subjects.

Electrical Board Makers underpaid the ETU member for a full year, leaving him on an hourly rate of approximately $12, when he was legally entitled to around $16.

The firm deflected Craig’s attempts to rectify the underpayment, only to cave in at the 11th hour when the ETU and Fair Work Australia got involved.

Company director David Merrick admitted Electrical Board Makers had erred but blamed bad advice from NECA.

‘NECA has changed the advice given to us earlier regarding competency based progression of apprentices,’ Merrick admitted in an email to organiser Stewart Edward on 4 February.

NECA – the National Electrical and Communications Association – is the peak employer body for electrical contracting companies.

Craig Stewart is now happy in a new job with another electrical firm, but he remains bitter about his treatment.

He says the company was well aware of ongoing abuse in its workshop that forced him to seek medical help for anxiety and depression. The abuse severely hampered Craig’s ability to study and at one stage left him feeling suicidal.

He made written complaints and was supported by the ETU, but the problem continued.

Craig said the ETU was ‘absolutely brilliant’ in achieving the $7,000 backpay.

‘The first thing any apprentice should do is sign up with the union. That is a big lesson that I learned.’

ETU organiser Stewart Edward slammed NECA for advising Craig’s employer that his pay could be frozen.
‘It’s a massive fail from the peak employer body. They owe Craig and the company an apology.’

‘This was resolved on the eve of a scheduled Fair Work mediation. The young man was put through a year of unnecessary stress,’ said Stewart.