General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

Blue Scope Steel negotiation kick off

Paul Lister - Monday, May 18, 2015

BlueScope negotiations are well underway and the company has made it clear that they are looking to wind back many of your hard fought conditions.

Their claims include:-

  • Cuts to your Security of Employment
  • Cuts to your Sick Leave entitlements
  • No More Meal Vouchers and Fewer Meal Allowances
  • Reduced Payment for Training
  • Changes to Consultation including removing Status Quo
  • Removal of the Significant Change Clause
  • No more Extended Leave and Discretionary Leave cut in half.
  • No Back Pay if negotiations drag on
  • Introduction of Part Time Employment
  • Forced 12 hours Shifts
  • Retention of rate reduced to 12 months

After BlueScope employees helped the company to turn a $300M deficit into a $75M profit over the last couple of years you would think the company had slashed enough but apparently they want a further $300M in profit in the near future.

The combined Unions have rejected these Company claims and we are pushing hard for the following:

  • Increases to wages and allowances that reflect the hard work put in by wage employees over the last 3 years,
  • New agreement to end 3 years from the end of the current agreement, with back pay to the expiry date,
  • Ability for wage employees to be trained to perform Team Leader functions (ie, level 5 & 6),
  • Morning tea and shower time to be written into the agreement to stop the ongoing attempts to remove them
  • Stopping staff from doing work covered by the agreement
  • A Fairer redundancy/selection process, and
  • Keep all current entitlements and conditions.
  • There are a number of other claims that we have not given up on and there are some others we feel should no longer be pursued.

We are holding feedback meetings for all Union members.

Venue: North Gate Visitors Centre
Dates: Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd May
Times: 6.30am and 6.30pm (both days)

Please make sure you attend one of these meetings so you have a chance for input and to hear more details about the negotiations from your Union representatives. Any questions can be directed to ETU Organiser Dave McKinley.

Working in Heat

Paul Lister - Friday, November 21, 2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 


Continuous work with normal breaks.


Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.


Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).


Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Simplot Members Vote for Industrial Action

Paul Lister - Monday, October 27, 2014

Members at Simplot Foods at Bathurst have voted to take their first ever industrial action. Along with AMWU members the ETU have taken a 24 hour stoppage and introduced ongoing overtime bans. This has been in direct response to the companies push for members to take an effective pay cut and wind back some of the long held conditions. The offer of 0% in the first year and then 1.5% and 2% in the following years has been rejected by a vast majority of employees and as a consequence the industrial action will continue for some time.

The negotiations have been hard fought with the company seemingly being bolstered by Federal Government comments regarding workers being to blame for problems at Toyota and SPC. Simplot's GM Terry O'Brien has contradicted himself on numerous occasions by telling the employees how bad the business is going and then announcing to the business community great annual results in all of his key financial indicators. Last year O’Brien told Bathurst members ‘your wages are not a problem, no one is getting rich here’ then during negotiations made statements in the media that wage increases will put investment at risk.

The Fair Work Commission has called on a compulsory conference for next week in an attempt to resolve the matter but the members are adamant that the company needs to make a realistic offer in order for them to lift their bans and not take further action.

BlueScope Steel Update

Paul Lister - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BlueScope Steel is currently attempting to push through massive changes to the workforce in the Port Kembla Steel Works. Under the guise of a restructure the company is making large numbers of employees redundant and attempting to force maintenance workers to accept operational roles that have always been undertaken by AWU members.
In the Ore Preparation area the company has plans to outsource the whole of the workforce to Transfield. Whilst Transfield currently undertake part of the maintenance work around the Steel Works they have never performed production work nor have they replaced any shift electricians. The combined Unions are fighting hard to keep the employees and will have the issues arbitrated by FWC in November.

The restructure in the Hot Strip Mill area of BlueScope involves a reduction of the workforce as well as a push for maintenance trades to fill in for operators. Electricians will be pushed into some floor duties as well as taking on the role of Systems attendant for part of their working day.
A similar situation is being proposed for the HCPD area where sparkies will be asked to work in the weigh bridge as well as undertake a number of other floor duties that are currently the role of AWU operators.

The proposed restructure for the Plate Mill involves reducing the plants running time back to three days a week and therefore reducing the amount of employees needed to work in the mill. The introduction of twelve hour shifts for the operating staff and major changes to maintenance shifts is also a big bone of contention.

The combined Unions are fighting BlueScope hard on all of these issues have all four of them listed in Fair Work Commission. Whilst the Ore Preparation area is the only one listed for arbitration at this point I have no doubt that there will be no agreement reached with the company on the other matters and these too will end up as full blown arbitration.

Tony Abbott's Building Code

Paul Lister - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sunshine Sugar instrumentation skills upgrade welcomed.

Paul Lister - Monday, September 22, 2014

Over the last decade it has been a battle for ETU members to get fair and equitable outcomes through the EBA process at Sunshine Sugar.

A combination of factors contributed to the average outcomes for our members, one of the major ones being a refusal by the management to acknowledge that they had a skill retention problem.

The last couple of years have seen a gradual change in the Co Op’s attitude to trade staff training and remuneration.

This can be directly attributed to the constant agitation from ETU members to have the company upgrade their skills and also remunerate for those skills.

So it’s pleasing to be able to report that the company has introduced a process for existing Electrical staff to undertake a Tafe recognised accelerated apprenticeship that will deliver a certificate 3 in instrumentation and control qualification to our members.

There has also been an increase in the all purpose rate to reflect the extra skill acquisition.

A big congratulations goes to the members at Condong who led the charge, it has paid off for other members at the other mills as well.

In Unity - Geoff Prime.

Joy Global members vote to accept new agreement

Paul Lister - Monday, September 22, 2014

After a prolonged negotiation the members at Joy Global Moss Vale have voted to accept a new enterprise agreement. In the current manufacturing climate the negotiating team have done very well to retain all of their existing conditions as well as improving on some of the agreements provisions.

On top of a reasonable wage outcome the new agreement contains an improved apprentice clause that will reinstate upfront Tech fees as well as see the company pay for all text books. The new agreement also includes updated conditions for the redundancy process such as rate retention provisions for shift workers, an increase in the company payment for safety boots and a much fairer discipline procedure.

This was all achieved without the angst of any industrial action which has been a common approach in past negotiations.

Well done to the boys.

In Unity - Dave McKinley.

Lismore Base Hospital Works

Paul Lister - Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Construction and upgrade work has now commenced at the Lismore Base Hospital with the managing contractor being John Holland. Following discussions with John Holland management, we are advised that the first stage will be earthworks.

John Holland have indicated that it is most likely to let the Electrical Contract in late August 2014 however from this time there may be employment opportunities for licenced electricians onsite.

We will endeavour to keep members up to date with any developments. All updates will be posted on the ETU website and any questions may be directed to ETU Organiser Geoff Prime - 0416 060 955.

Free Online Asbestos Training Package

Paul Lister - Monday, June 16, 2014

With the support of WorkCover NSW, the ETU and other industry representatives, have developed a free asbestos eā€learning package for electrical workers providing important information on:

  • What is asbestos
  • The health risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos
  • Where asbestos containing materials may be found in the electrical industry
  • The safety controls that minimise the risk of asbestos exposure
  • Examples of real life electrical work situations involving asbestos

To complete the online training simply CLICK HERE



Long Service Corporation Cancellation of Worker Registrations

Paul Lister - Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Long Service Corporation will soon be cancelling the registrations of workers who have not recorded service for at least 4 years, and who have less than 5 years recorded service in NSW.

The Corporation will be cancelling registrations under Section 19(1A) or 19(2) of the Building and Construction Industry Long Service Payments Act 1986.

Notifications of the intention to cancel a workers registration will be issued to approximately 18 000 affected workers on 12 May 2014. Workers will have until 27 June 2014 to lodge an appeal against the cancellation of their registration.

Long Service Corporation have updated their website and Helpline messages with information about the cancellation of registrations.

ETU members are reminded to make sure the Corporation has your correct contact details.

If you have any enquiries about the cancellation process please phone Long Service Corporation customer service on 13 14 41.