Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Canberra Construction Update

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 10, 2016

Electrical Contracting in Canberra construction is a mix of major companies and smaller locals companies competing for work.

The ETU has commenced negotiations with the ACT Branch of Heyday 5 and we will not be expecting any shenanigans like those suffered by our Sydney brothers.

The ETU will also be commencing negotiations with a local company, Martin Donnelly, and we have concluded negotiations, with a good result, with Shepherd Electrical earlier this year. Our friends at Fredon are years late, a dollar short and slow to the table.

While we have continued relatively good relationship with most companies one has snuck under the radar. We attempted a number of times to contact Stowe by post, phone, visits and email. But no response.

What Stowe was up to was convincing employees they needed a “race to the bottom” resulting in some of the lowest rates of pay for Electricians in this area. When the ETU discovered a crappy non-union EBA was lodged in the Fair Work Commission we opposed the agreement. Unfortunatly, the employees had trusted the boss, swallowed the bait and voted yes.

The Stowe Canberra EBA, supported by a majority, provides the following:

  • Transferred apprentices to NECA group training and cuts 30% out of their rates of pay
  • Specifically excluded apprentices from the EBA – to continue low pay rates
  • The existing Licensed Electricians are currently on a rate of $40.72 which will be increased after 2 years by 2.1%
  • The next increase after that will be at 3 years and 2.1%
  • This has created a 1% per year EBA – a tragic outcome for highly skilled workers.

From there it’s all downhill:

  • Newly employed Electricians will start at $29.46 per hour
  • This rate will increase to a maximum of $36.83 per hour after going through a number of steps
  • The increases are at management discretion so you could remain at $29.46

In most other respects the EBA is the same as, or slightly less than, the competition. This is a race to the bottom from what used to be a good employer. This agreement is a dog, and there is no other way of describing it.

ETU Officials in Newcastle are telling me this agreement is now being used as the “blueprint” and being portrayed as the model. ETU members across the state should not fall for this and the only way to secure a better outcome is to join the union, get active, stick together and stand your ground. When it comes to large companies like Stowe, this approach and attempt to dud workers with a substandard agreement is unacceptable.

Stowe cannot be allowed to get away with this anywhere else and while they may have got their Canberra agreement registered, the ETU will be watching these grubs very closely ready to take action at any opportunity.

All ETU members should immediately alert their organiser if their boss attempts to pull a swiftly and follow in the miserable footsteps of Stowe Canberra.

Unions NSW Workers Comp Rally - Friday 4 November

Paul Lister - Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Unions NSW will be holding a lunchtime Workers Compensation rally outside NSW Parliament on 4 November 2016 at 12:30pm

The rally coincides with public hearings for the first review of the 2012 workers compensation changes.

Unions NSW has made an extensive submission to the Law and Justice Committee painting a horrifying picture of the scale of the devastation wreaked by the changes to workers compensation: from suicides to soup kitchens and everything in between.

At the rally on 4 November 2016 we will be hearing from injured workers and highlighting the harsh impact of the 2012 changes on the injured workers of NSW and their families.

There will also be regional events:

Wollongong - 31 October 2016
Orange - 2 November 2016
Newcastle - 3 November; and
A date for an event in Lismore is being finalised.

By keeping the pressure on the Government about workers comp we have won significant changes including more than doubling the medical cap and reducing the threshold for lifetime cover among other changes. This rally is an important part of our plan to keep winning improvements to the scheme.

Sydney Event Details:
Outside NSW Parliament, Macquarie St Sydney
12:30pm on Friday 4 November 2016

Dan Ta takes out ETU Footy Tipping Comp

Paul Lister - Tuesday, November 01, 2016

ETU member and Nilsen Engineering Services electrician Dan Ta has won the ETU footy tipping competition after leading the competition for the first twelve rounds before being knocked out of first place necessitating a comeback late in the season.

Dan said the comp was neck and neck with one other member as they headed into the finals where Dan adopted a strategy to pick the opposite teams to his rival, a strategy which paid off handing Dan Ta victory in the final two rounds.

Dan has won a week’s accommodation in the ETU’s Holiday Cabins located at Nambucca Heads on the NSW north coast. Dan said he is planning to get away sometime next year with his wife and kids where the will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the White Albatross Holiday Park where the ETU cabins are located.

When asked what his tip is for ETU members participating in next years’ footy tipping contest Dan said that the Parramatta Eel’s are set to be the Premiers and any member that supports the Eel’s throughout the season will be rewarded.

Details on next year’s footy tipping comp will be provided a couple of weeks before the NRL comp starts.

 

Electrical Apprentice Karlyn Hinch Collects $500 Tool Voucher

Paul Lister - Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apprentice Electrician Karlyn Hinchy, daughter of long time ETU lift industry member Brad Hinchy, recently received a $500 tool voucher after completing the ETU apprentice survey.

ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley presented Karlyn with her voucher and thanked apprentices for completing the survey which will assist the ETU across the country in better serving and representing electrical apprentices.

Dave said that Apprentices represent an important part of our trade and that the ETU will continue to fight to strengthen and protect our apprenticeship and trade training system.

"Electrical apprentices have a rewarding career to look forward to as they embark on a journey in the most respected trade." said Dave McKinley

"As our trade develops and evolves with new technology, the ETU will continue to stand up and fight for electrical apprentices and other workers in the electrical trades to ensure our license and trade training system remain first class.

"We can not allow governments or employers to dumb down our trade, license or safety standards under the smoke screen of lower regulation and greater efficiency.

"The ETU will not allow these kinds of attacks to occur and our first port of call will be to represent and protect our apprentices." said Dave.

Newcastle Kone Members Vote to Continue Action

Paul Lister - Thursday, September 22, 2016

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.

 

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

 

Solidarity Sips - 21 September

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time to flick the switch at Parliament House

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 20, 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.

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