General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

Product Recall - Faulty Electrical Cables

Paul Lister - Monday, August 26, 2013

NSW Fair Trading has negotiated with the Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd for the recall of three batches of *Infinity* brand insulated electrical cables. The cables are Thermoplastic Sheathed electric cable - commonly known as TPS.

The specific cable is 2.5mm "Polymeric Insulated Electrical Cable which is PVC Sheathed, PVC Insulated, Flat and Flexible Low Voltage Electrical Cable" also commonly known as "TPS 2.5mm Twin and Earth" (ThermoPlastic Sheathed Electrical Cable, active, neutral and earth). The batch numbers being recalled are INFH 190311, INFH 210912 and INFMEL 081112.

The cables that are the subject of the recall have been subjected to laboratory testing commissioned by NSW Fair Trading and conducted by TUV Rheinland in Victoria. The sample submitted for testing by NSW Fair Trading failed the commissioned tests against AS/NZ 5000.2:2006 and relevant parts of AS/NZ 3808. The testing failure indicates that the plastic coating insulation on the cable can become brittle when exposed to high temperatures over time whether through exposure to heat generated by the copper wire itself or through exposure to external heat such as if it is used in the roof of homes in warmer parts of NSW.

Information provided to Fair Trading is that the product has been stocked in NSW for about one year.  NSW Fair Trading has been in contact with electrical safety regulators around Australia and advised them of the concerns regarding this cable. NSW Fair Trading believes that the cable may also be sold in other States and Territories. Fair Trading has no information that any incidents or injuries to people or property has resulted from the cable. However, given the cable batches have failed essential safety tests the recall is needed to prevent possible future problems.  

The company is publishing recall notices in newspapers and writing to everyone they have sold the cable to requesting them to return the recalled batches of cable to the place of sale.The company has agreed to provide information to Fair Trading concerning the importation and sale of the recalled batches of cable and to provide ongoing reports to Fair Trading of the recall and disposal of the affected cables.

Fair Trading will be issuing a media release regarding the recall in addition to the company*s own recall notices. Our advice will of course be that consumers should not try to inspect the cable and that any work on wiring or cable should only be done by licensed electricians. We will also recommend to consumers that if they have recently had building work done, or wiring changed or installed, they should contact the responsible builder or electrician for advice on whether the recalled cable was used. If it was, we will recommend that they talk to the builder or electrician about getting the cable inspected and replaced.

It would be appreciated if you could make your members and stakeholders aware of this recall through your own communication channels and networks. The formal information that you could direct people towards will be on the Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

CEPU/ETU 2012 Financial Accounts

Paul Lister - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work Registered Organisation Act 2009 and the Industrial Relations Act 1996 the CEPU NSW Branch and ETU NSW Branch has made available to members the complete financial reports and associated documents for 2012.

By law the CEPU must provide a copy of their financial report free of charge to members, this can be downloaded here.

Free Training for ETU Members

Paul Lister - Thursday, June 13, 2013

ETU members are invited to participate in the following training courses and events, open to all members and free of charge. We hope you find something of interest.

Public Speaking: Saturday 15th June 
Learn techniques that will give you confidence when introducing yourself or delivering a persuasive speech. Register online
here

Public Sector Workers: Tuesday 18th June
Join the community unions network to meet other workers confronted with the same challenges and discuss ideas for combined union activities. Details
here

Workers Comp Day:
Wednesday 19th June
‘Fair Go for Workers Compensation Day’ to highlight the NSW Government’s attack on injured workers.  Flyers and surveys
here

Cumberland Community Unions:
Wednesday 19th June
Come along to the official launch of a new community unions group for Smithfield and Fairfield areas of Western Sydney. RSVPs and details
here

Bullying and Workers Comp - basics: Friday 21st June
This training will enable organisers and delegates to:
Session 1. Give simple advice on the job about NSW Workers Comp.
Session 2.  Use new Anti-Bullying and Harassment Laws as a tool to make workplaces safer. Register for either or both sessions
here

Bluescope Steel EA Vote

Paul Lister - Thursday, June 13, 2013

To all Bluescope Steel Limited contacts, AWU, AMWU, ETU, CFMEU on Tuesday 11 June copies of the new enterprise agreement will be distributed into all crib rooms, pulpits and control rooms across BlueScope Steel. All members will have access to the agreement for at least 7 days.

A mass meeting to vote on the new agreement will be held at 7am on Friday 21 June at the Fraternity Club.

Day work or day shift members in the hot metal area must stay at work.

Hot Metal Area members who miss the mass meeting will have their own meeting on Monday 24 June in the north gate visitors centre at 7am.

It is extremely important that all members turn up for these meetings as votes will need to be counted for the paperwork required by the Fair Work Commission. 

If you need further information please contact John Thornton. 

PWCS workers set to stike

Paul Lister - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ETU members working for Port Waratah Coal Service are continuing industrial action after negotiations between the company and the union’s single bargaining unit broke down. Made up of the MUA, TWU, ETU, AWU & AMWU the single bargaining unit has been negotiating with the company over a new enterprise agreement.

However PWCS and the unions cannot agree on important employment protections including the use of contractors and the dispute settlement procedure which has led to industrial action. ETU members are set to strike for 24 hours commencing today, Wednesday 29 May commencing at noon.

Meanwhile the international union IndustriALL has sent a letter of support to PWCS union members.

ETU Social Media

Paul Lister - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be sure to visit out the ETU on FacebookTwitter and YouTube for regular updates while you are there check out some of our photos and videos.

Ampcontrol: "30 to 40 Jobs to go"

Paul Lister - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THIRTY to 40 jobs are likely to go from Ampcontrol with more job losses possible in the coming weeks, unions said after meeting with management on Friday morning.

An Ampcontrol spokeswoman confirmed the likely job losses after the meeting, saying the figures given by the union were  ‘‘ballpark for the affected areas’’.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Russell Wilson said the shop floor rumours had been of 100 jobs to go, so the outcome of 30 to 40 was not as bad as it could have been.

Unions approached the Newcastle Herald on Thursday, unhappy with the way Ampcontrol was handling the need to cut jobs.

Mr Wilson said the company had called for voluntary redundancies from across the company without giving employees any idea of how many jobs were going, or from which of the company’s various divisions and businesses.

Ampcontrol defended its actions in a statement to the Herald on Thursday afternoon, and Mr Wilson said the company’s decision today to give more detail was a change of heart.

‘‘We formerly had a good relation with them and hopefully it is back on track,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘In five or six weeks there could be another round of job cuts, depending on the state of contract work, but they have told us this time they will involve the unions from the start and they have promised to help people with their resumes in getting other work and in training to get other skills.’’

He said Ampcontrol had businesses at Tomago, Cardiff and Cameron Park and it appeared jobs would go from all Hunter sites.

He said the company would not say if jobs were going from other Ampcontrol sites outside of the region.

The company has grown dramatically in recent years, buying a number of rival businesses across Australia and internationally.

‘‘We asked them whether they had grown too fast and paid too much for some of their assets but they said they were all bought at bargain basement prices, had helped them diversify and had added value to the company,’’ Mr Wilson said.

In a memo Friday, to Hunter-based Ampcontrol employees, the company’s chief executive officer and managing director, Geoff Lilliss, set out the situation facing the company and the workforce.

Mr Lilliss said that after ‘‘initially taking a cautious approach to employee numbers’’ it had become necessary to cut further jobs.

Mr Lilliss said employment agreements varied across the business, and voluntary redundancy was being offered ‘‘in some circumstances’’.

People were being redeployed as an alternative to redundancy wherever possible.

Biennial Conference, New Website & Scholarships

Paul Lister - Friday, May 24, 2013

Earlier this week our union held its biennial conference in Wollongong where a number of important matters were discussed. 120 delegates from across NSW and the ACT had the opportunity to raise issues, debate matters and adopt policy positions that impact on CEPU/ETU members.

A more comprehensive conference report will appear in the next LiveWire but some of the items covered at conference included:

  • Superannuation.
  • OH&S matters including safety committees, cross industry safety matters, communication, asbestos safety, changes to Workers Compensation and the possible provision of defibrillators in some industries.
  • Industrial and legal matters including how ETU members can access the services of NEW Law when making a workers compensation claim.
  • National Licensing and the national apprentice wage case.
  • Improvements to union communications including social media and the launch of a new & improved website; and
  • Improvements to ETU membership such as Journey Cover Insurance.

These items were discussed over a period of three days and the input from delegates was very much appreciated. It is the effort of our delegates that often goes un-noticed and without thanks, so I would like to say a big thank you to those members that take on the role of delegate in order to represent your colleagues, without you our union would not be as strong as it is.

Website

As mentioned the union has launched a new website. Our last website was launched in 2009 and was in need of an overhaul. The union had four objectives in this overhaul including – introducing the ability for new members to join the union and pay online, simplify the layout and navigation, provide relevant and real time information and incorporate our social media accounts with the website.

Members will also now be able to request an electronic copy of their agreement through the website and access news, updates and notices relevant to your workplace and industry through the new industry groupings on the home page.

I encourage all members to have a look at the new website (www.etunsw.com.au) and we will continue to look at ways to improve interaction with members online.

Scholarships

One of the benefits of ETU membership is access to our annual education scholarships for members, their children and grandchildren. Nominations for this year close at the end of June so I encourage all members, your children or grandchildren that are studying at diploma level or high to submit an application.

We will be awarding six scholarships each worth $2,000 to assist with education expenses. You can read more about the ETU Education Scholarships here.

AMPControl To Slash Up To 100 Hunter Valley Jobs

Paul Lister - Friday, May 24, 2013

AMPCONTROL, one of the Hunter Valley’s largest private electrical engineering and manufacturing companies is set to slash up to 100 jobs in the Hunter Valley despite offers of assistance from employees.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) were told this week that the company will be making an announcement next Tuesday on jobs cuts with affected staff being told to pack their bags by Wednesday.

ETU Organiser Russell Wilson said that the unions went to the company with a plan to reduce the number of working days from five to four to assist the company but this was rejected by the company without consideration.

“We went to the company with an offer of assistance but management are more interested in making people redundant than working together to get through a tough period.” said Mr Wilson.

“The company will not tell us how many employees are going to be laid off but we have heard rumours that it could be as many as one hundred local jobs that disappear overnight.”

“Management would know by now exactly how many people are going to be affected but they are keeping it secret until next Tuesday and giving those dedicated employees that lose their job just twenty four hours to leave.”

“I think this is totally unacceptable, the company has a moral responsibility to its employees to at least give them a few weeks’ notice and to assist them in transitioning into alternative employment.”

AMWU Organiser Todd Nickle said that his members feel like they have an axe hanging over their head every day they turn up to work.

“These highly skilled workers have been turning up to work each day not knowing if they will have a job tomorrow,

“The company admits on their website that their success has only been made possible because of their loyal and dedicated workforce yet they make secret plans to sack up to one hundred people, it’s just a disgrace.” Mr Nickle said.

“We are calling on Geoff Lilliss and the board to reconsider the need to sack any workers and if they are going to sack people we are asking management to provide appropriate notice and to assistance people in the transition to new employment.” said Mr Nickle.

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.