General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

Retired Member Update

Posted on 02-12-2015

Following the most recent campaign meeting of Combined Retired Union Members and Associations, Unions NSW would like to invite retired ETU members to the following events:


Mark Lennon's last Council meeting as Secretary Unions NSW. The meeting will be followed by drinks and snacks. At 6:30pm Peter Fitzsimons will launch the Sydney screening of a historical docu-drama Death or Liberty based on the Eureka Stockade in the Auditorium.

When/Where: 5:30pm Thursday 4th December Trades Hall Auditorium 377 Sussex St Haymarket.


Action Stations - hand out flyers highlighting attacks on the rights of working people:

7:15am Monday 7th December BURWOOD train station.

7:15am Tuesday 8th December STRATHFIELD train station.


Campaign meeting of Combined Retired Union Members and Associations - focus on 2016 an election year.

Where/When: 10am - 12pm Monday 18th January 2016 Sydney Trades Hall, ground floor, training room two, 377 Sussex St Haymarket.


Our living standards, built by past generations of union members, are what make Australia a great place to live. But our living standards are under significant attack. We demand government support for secure jobs & penalty rates; Medicare; quality education for all; public services owned by the people for the people; a secure retirement with decent pensions & superannuation, and, a fair go for all!

Unions NSW and the Combined Retired Union Members Association invite Sydney based active retired union members to join in these activities - a great opportunity to meet other retired union activists.

For more information contact Alison Rahill at Unions NSW tel 02 9881 5923 mob 0414 316 839 Email

Campaign ETU

Posted on 16-11-2015


I would like to advise all members that we have introduced a new initiative to try and improve communications with members. The ETU now has a new team called “CAMPAIGN ETU”.  Over the next few months you may be contacted by “CAMPAIGN ETU” about various issues that are running, those issues may include:- 

  • ETU membership
  • Enterprise Agreement campaigns
  • General Campaigning information
  • Calls to action like doorknocking or attending rallies

The “CAMPAIGN ETU” team are located in our Sydney office and will be continuing on for a trial period.  Please feel comfortable in talking to “CAMPAIGN ETU” team members and hopefully we will be able to continue to tweak the operation to better meet the needs of members.  If you are unsure who is contacting you or what they are calling for please contact your local ETU official or ETU office to discuss.

Yours in solidarity

Steve Butler


Download the Notice

A recent dispute lodged with Fairwork Australia by the ETU has resulted in a significant victory for ETU members and their colleagues who work in the maintenance section at Australia’s Parliament House. The dispute arose from a decision made by the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) Employee Relations section to discontinue the application of an entitlement contained in the current EA covering the workplace. The DPS EA is quite clear on the application of an allowance paid to maintenance workers in lieu of the ‘flexibility” that this group must provide for periods when Parliament sits throughout the year.  The Flexibility Payment is clearly defined as an all-purpose payment and it clearly sets out that it is to be paid for overtime, superannuation and all leave. The payment had been applied in this way for over 10 years.

Last year when ETU member Steve Gardner-Pugh took a period of long service leave he noticed his pay was short and that it was short to the extent of the flexibility payment. On his return to work he enquired as to why this had occurred and was told quite abruptly that the department had discovered that they should not be paying this allowance on long service leave due to restrictions contained in the Long Service Leave Act, and it had now stopped for LSL. At no time was the ETU or the employees advised of this decision by DPS to withhold the payment. Steve contacted ETU Organiser Matt McCann through his ETU delegate for assistance and a meeting was arranged to attempt to resolve the issue.

It became apparent pretty quickly that no movement on the impasse could be reached at this level and the ETU notified DPS of its intention to enter into dispute and the matter was subsequently lodged with the Fairwork Commission. According to Matt McCann DPS were unable to explain why they failed to notify the union or the employees prior to making the decision to withhold payment of the flexibility payment.

“We pointed out the clear intention in the agreement was to apply this payment for all forms of leave and they agreed that they understood this as well, but they claimed their hands were tied as there was a problem with other legislation that they felt made the payment illegal”. McCann said.

“We put it to them quite strongly that we felt they were wrong and we also pointed out that it was a clear case of failing to consult on changes that effect employee entitlements” McCann said.

The matter was listed for conciliation in Canberra before DP Kovacic. DPS fronted up with an in house lawyer from the Australian Government Solicitor’s Office who was armed with a bevy of folders and documents ready to argue the legal technicalities of the dispute. The rug was pulled out from under them when McCann pointed out the ETU was not there to argue the merits of technical legal argument on the application of the LSL Act, but would be focussing on a fundamental and core principle of the Fairwork Act and that is “the intent of the parties at the time an agreement is made”. In its oral submission the ETU successfully established that the intent of the parties was always to apply the allowance to LSL and that effectively this intent had not changed by their own admission. They conceded that the decision was based on legal advice from internal sources. It was suggested that maybe their legal advice could be wrong and had they could have sought external independent advice, before making the final decision, they conceded they had not, and that maybe they should have. A recommendation was made by DP Kovacic that DPS seek external legal advice and if that found in favour of the employees, then the department should be able to rely on that advice and continue to apply the established intent.

The advice provided found strongly in favour of the ETU and the department then agreed to back pay all affected employees including some who received a belated bonus to their redundancy payments after taking earlier redundancies in late 2014. The ETU ran this matter on behalf of other unions covered in the maintenance section. In summing up the victory Matt McCann said “It was great to get a positive result for our members who stood up on this, to be honest a lot of credit should go to Neville Betts who pointed out the intent of the parties’ angle when some of our own legal advice suggested we may not have a strong case”.

Long-time ETU member Steve Gardner-Pugh who attended the hearing also later thanked the ETU in an email stating “Fantastic result! Thanks again on behalf of all our guy’s very impressed with the handling of this matter, and as a personal note, thanks it was great to see how you roll”.

ETU Organiser Steve Robinson recently gave the Sydney manufacturing sector a health check declaring that the sector is likely to remain in intensive care in the immediate term.

Steve said the manufacturing in the aluminium and copper sector continues to suffer with job losses and plant closures highlighting that a local Penrith plant was forced to close in recent months. Other company’s facing challenges include Coca Cola and OI Glass – both of which operate glass manufacturing plants in Western Sydney.

“Coca Cola and OI Glass are both coming under pressure from off shore competition and just like the steel industry, glass is doing it tough too.” said Steve.

Manufacturing in the engineering and mining sectors continue to decline coming off the back of the mining down turn which has resulted in many companies being taken over or merged.

Things are somewhat better in the food manufacturing sector with fewer redundancies while these companies also continue to provide pay increases and some new apprentice opportunities.

Steve said that the NSW Government and Federal Government both had a lot to answer when it comes to industry support.

“In recent years we have watched as the NSW and Federal Governments have walked away from the Australian manufacturing sector.” said Steve

“Government support and contracts are no longer guaranteed with the vehicle manufacturing industry and submarine debacle being clear examples of how our government have deserted this sector.

“I keep hearing all of this nonsense that the China Free Trade Agreement will be good for Australia but all I can see is further off shoring of Australian jobs through the lack of government support.” said Steve.

Some of the impacts being felt by ETU members in the manufacturing sector include:

  • Reductions in Working Hours.
  • Employers negotiating Lower rates of Pay for new starters (two Tier System)
  • Reductions in Wages either from reduced Hours or Negotiations by the Employer
  • Redundancies
  • Reductions in Conditions of Employment
  • Wage Freezes for 12mths to 2 years in many instances.
  • Low wage increases below the State Government Wage Policy
  • Company Takeovers
  • Company Closures


Bluescope Mass Meeting

Posted on 29-10-2015


A mass meeting of all members will be held.

Time: 7.00 am

members who cannot attend due to work commitments

When: FRIDAY 6th NOVEMBER 2015
Time: from 5.30am


Voting for the new Enterprise Agreements

Please ensure that you attend as we need to count the votes that are in favour of or against the respective agreements.

ETU members at Bluescope Steel in the Illawarra have today learned their fate as the Bluescope Board announced that they will continue to produce Australian Steel by keeping the plant open after working with employees to secure savings.

The Board also announced that the company was successful in securing payroll tax concessions which would see the deferment of payroll tax payments meaning the Port Kembla Steel Works would remain open.

ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley, who has been directly involved with the BlueScope matter, said that this was a bitter sweet win for ETU members who have today secured their jobs for the immediate future.

“Make no mistake the only reason Bluescope Steel will be open for business tomorrow is because of the selfless actions of the hard working and committed employee’s.” said Dave.

“ETU members were among thousands of workers who selflessly gave up hard fought conditions with the hope of a secure job at the end of it all.”

“Today is a victory for workers at Port Kembla, albeit a bitter sweet one.” Dave said.

Prior to the completion of EBA negotiations earlier this year Bluescope announced the future of steel making at Port Kembla would be under review.

Bluescope management stated that the board had demanded $200 million in savings or they would close steel making at Port Kembla. This would see the importation of Hot Rolled Coil used for production at the Springhill plant.

The combined unions understood that this was no idle threat and that the closure of steel making would amount to thousands of jobs lost in the region with only the Springhill plant left operating

As a result and following discussions with members, the combined unions agreed to withdraw applications for protected industrial action and enter into meaningful discussions on ways to keep the steel works open.

It was agreed to enter into negotiations mediated by Deputy President Hatcher of the Fair Work Commission and overseen by President Ross. Over the following eight weeks the combined unions negotiated with management over savings that would keep steel production open and save thousands of jobs.

This culminated in the unions taking a recommendation to members who voted to accept a wide range of changes to their working conditions including over 200 redundancies amongst wages employees and over 170 redundancies of salaried employees.

With this guarantee the Unions will be taking the new EBA to a vote next Thursday 5th November.


Organiser workplace allocation

Posted on 22-10-2015

Following the departure of a number of organisers from the ETU a re-allocation of workplaces has occurred to share the workload across current officials. In the past twelve months five officials have left the organisation with two full time and one part time organisers employed.

Below is a list of new workplaces that have been allocated to ETU organisers. This list is in addition to any existing workplaces these organisers were already responsible for.

Adam Wardrope – Newcastle
AMP Control, Nepean Power, Dywidag-Systems International, Falk Australia, Hunter Valley Energy Coal, Centennial Coal, Myuna Colliery, West Wallsend No2, Oceanic Coal Australia, Steggles, Weathertex, Independent Gaming.

Justin Page – Newcastle
Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, Port Waratah Coal Service, Delta Electricity, Eraring Energy, Macquarie Generation, Tomago Aluminium, Koppers Coal Tar Production, Rutherford Power, Rutherford Transformer Service, Vision Control Solutions.

Brad Currey – Wollongong
All workplaces in the Illawarra region.

Dave McKinley – Sydney
TrasGrid statewide.

Ben Lister – Sydney
Rail, Apprentices, all workplaces in New England region and Far North Coast.

Mark Buttigieg – Sydney
Business Equipment.

Steve Bankes – Sydney
Construction and Lift Industry.

Matt McCann - Canberra
Canberra Construction and General Trade and all workplaces in the Riverina.

ChAFTA set to pass parliament

Posted on 21-10-2015

To all ETU Members
Today’s announcement that the Federal government has cut a deal with the Labor party to pass the Chafta enabling legislation is gutting.
Since the day it was announced the ETU has been on the front foot campaigning against the anti-worker elements of the China FTA.
The protections that have been secured are woefully inadequate. The narrowness of the labour market testing provisions still leave the door open for the driving down of conditions and the exploitation of migrant workers.
The comparative weakness of the licensing regulation changes means that there are still serious safety concerns around the removal of mandatory skills testing.
We recognise the value of compromise and negotiated outcomes, but this deal is not acceptable. The amendments might be better than nothing, but not by much.
This deal stinks. Even though it appears our political options are exhausted the campaign will continue.
Working Australians have a right to know what this rotten Turnbull government has done.
We will continue our campaign from now until the next Federal election and beyond to ensure we get rid of these anti-worker elements.
Our fight continues to protect our jobs, our safety and our sovereignty.
Proud to be Union
Allen Hicks - National Secretary

The ETU is required to disclose any political expenditure incurred during a declared period leading up to NSW General Elections. This disclosure was made by the ETU NSW Branch and the CEPU Electrical Division NSW Branch on Tuesday 22 September in accordance with reporting requirements.

The ETU today received confirmation from the NSW Electoral Funding Authority that our disclosure has been reviewed and accepted with no questions arising.

Full details of all political disclosures for all entities will be available on the NSW Electoral Funding Authority website next month.

STOP ChAFTA Town Hall Debates

Posted on 08-10-2015

Will the China Free Trade Agreement be good for local jobs?

The Turnbull Liberal Government is intent on forcing the China Free Trade Agreement through the Senate before Christmas.

Australian Unions believe the China Free Trade Agreement will:

  • be BAD for local jobs
  • be BAD for workplace safety
  • be BAD for local communities
  • undercut local rates of pay
  • exploit overseas workers

Come hear both sides and decide for yourself! public debates have been organised for the following locations and we encourage as many ETU members as possible to come along.


Kevin Hogan MP, Nationals Member for Page is invited to debate Tony Maher, Construction, Foresty, Mining and Energy Union.

When: October 27, 2015 at 6pm - 7pm
Where: South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club - 2 Wharf St, South Grafton
Contact: Sharryn Usher -

Download the event flyer


David Coleman MP, Liberal Member for Banks is invited to debate Allen Hicks, Electrical Trades Union.

When: October 27, 2015 at 6pm - 7pm
Where: Club Central Hurstville - 2 Crofts Ave, Hurstville
Contact: Maryanne Stuart -

Download the event flyer


Karen McNamara MP, Liberal Member for Dobell and Lucy Wicks MP, Liberal Member for Robertson are invited to debate Ged Kearney, ACTU President and Jane Calvert, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

When: October 27, 2015 at 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Where: The Entrance Leagues Club - 3 Bay Village Rd, Bateau Bay
Contact: Aarin Moon -

Download the event flyer


Fiona Scott MP, Liberal Member for Lindsay and Louise Markus MP, Liberal Member for Macquarie are invited to debate Ged Kearney, ACTU President and Jane Calvert, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

When: October 28, 2015 at 6pm - 9pm
Where: Penrith Paceway - 141-147 Station St, Penrith
Contact: Mary Yaager - or Aaron Reynolds -

Download the event flyer


Peter Hendy MP, Liberal Member for Eden-Monaro is invited to debate Michael O'Connor, National Secretary, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

When: October 30, 2015 at 6pm - 8pm
Where: The Royal Hotel - 85 Monaro St, Queanbeyan
Contact: Jeremy Kirkwood -

Download the event flyer


Ann Sudmalis MP, Liberal Member for Gilmore is invited to debate Jane Calvert, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

When: November 18, 2015 at 6.30pm - 7.30pm
Where: Bomaderry Bowling Club - 154 Meroo Rd, Bomaderry
Contact: Lisa Kremmer -