Electricity, Water and Utilities

 23/2/2017

“This Joint Union Delegates meeting reject “Both Options”, as presented by Endeavour Energy.  Therefore neither option is preferred.  The unions are committed to continue the negotiations in good faith and re-affirm our 3 key principles of;

1. Job security;

2. Maintain conditions of employment; and

3. Reasonable wage increase.

Carried unanimously

It has come to the union’s attention that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd are misleading employees regarding the Agreement provisions in respect of stand down after working overtime. The attached documents and variations of them are being used by various managers across the supply area to subvert the stand down provisions of the Agreement. The Ausgrid Agreement is very clear on stand down provisions. I have included the relevant clauses below;

15.5 Rest period after Overtime
15.5.1 Where overtime is necessary, whenever possible it shall be organised so that employees shall have at least ten (10) consecutive hours off duty. If so much overtime is worked that an employee cannot take a ten (10) consecutive hour break before the normal commencement time, they shall be entitled to time off without loss of normal pay until they have had a ten (10) consecutive hour break. If a ten (10) hour break is not given then the employee is paid double time for all hours worked until a ten (10) consecutive hour break is taken.
This means that after working overtime – any overtime – you take a 10 hr break or you get paid double time until a ten hour break is taken. This is irrespective of how long a break you might have had prior to the overtime. The attached document implies that if you have had a 10hr break prior to working the overtime then you do not have to take a 10hr break after. This is a misapplication of the Agreement. The clause clearly refers to Rest period after Overtime.
15.5.2 If a day worker is recalled to work overtime between the time determined by extending the employee’s usual ceasing time on the previous day by eight (8) hours and 0400 hours, the employee’s normal starting time the next day shall be put back by the number of hours worked between those times or paid at double time for the number of hours worked between those times.
This means that if you are recalled to work overtime between the hours of; finish time + 8hrs and 0400hrs, you only get stood down with pay for the number of hours you worked between those times or you get paid double time until that duration of a break is taken. For example if your start time is 0700 and your finish time is 15:30 and you get called in at midnight and work from midnight to 0400 then you would not start work until 11am the following day or get paid double time until that 4hr break is taken. Anything outside the span of hours above is simply reverts to the 10hr break rule.
Management has been using the attached flow charts, which are a breach of the Ausgrid Agreement. As a result of this it is apparent that many of you will actually be entitled to payment at double time when such breaks described above were not taken. I encourage all of you in this situation to make the relevant claims you are entitled to under the Agreement. This will involve consulting your own records and / or requesting time sheet records from your area management. If there are any issues with you getting this information please contact your local delegate who will assist with the process.


Ausgrid EBA Update - 8 Feb

Posted on 08-2-2017

Dear Colleague,

The combined union delegates met on Tuesday 31st January 2017 at Ausgrid Silverwater Training Centre. The meeting was addressed by outgoing ETU Secretary Steve Butler, incoming Secretary Dave McKinley and Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd CEO, Richard Gross. Mr. Gross gave a summary of the challenges and opportunities he sees for the organisation going forward and was questioned at length by our delegates.

Mr.Gross was not prepared to give a commitment on the issue of forced redundancies one way or another but did say that he views the EBA bargaining process as a complete reset and was looking at every aspect of the business in the context of the upcoming EBA negotiations. He also stated that he wanted to see the organisation become competitive and pursue contestable markets. In terms of commitments Mr. Gross gave an undertaking that representation rights letters would be mailed to all employees within two weeks of the meeting and that he expected the first EBA meeting would take place before the end of February.

Steve Butler gave an industry report focusing on the Essential Energy negotiations and the associated legal actions which led to arbitration on the Essential Agreement. The incoming Secretary Dave McKinley thanked Steve and noted that given this was effectively Steve’s last day on the job, it was fitting that he address Ausgrid delegates. All delegates gave Steve a long round of applause in thanks for his huge effort over many years as both the organizer for Ausgrid and Secretary of the union.

The meeting proceeded and elected the following EBA negotiating committee representatives;

The meeting discussed our negotiating position with respect to the EBA and it was agreed that the consistently maintained principles of;

  1. Job security.
  2. No trade off in conditions
  3. A reasonable wage outcome.

- Continue to be the guiding principles in the negotiations.

To that end the following log of claims was unanimously endorsed by the meeting;

  • No forced redundancies.
  • 3% per annum wage rise with an effective backdate to 1 Dec 2016.
  • Nominal expiry date of 1 Dec 2020.
  • An improved contracting out clause.

Other possible claims were discussed at length but the overwhelming position of the meeting was that the claims should be kept to a minimum, be simple and directly address the three principles specified above. If members have any concerns or suggestions they should feed these back through their workplace delegates and in turn through the negotiating representatives in the list above. These will then be discussed and considered by the negotiating committee. I will today write to Ausgrid advising them of the outcomes of the meeting including the nominated representatives and the claims.

Members should expect to see representational rights letters in the mail from Ausgrid within the next week. I remind all members that if you do not respond to these letters then your default bargaining agent will be the ETU. It is important that all non-members understand that their interests will not be represented at the negotiating meetings and that they are not permitted to take part in any subsequent industrial campaign / action that the union may engage in.

I encourage all non-members to share the load with your workmates and join the union to get full representation. Members and delegates should be actively encouraging this.

Given the comments to date by the new CEO and the stance of the new owners in general, particularly in respect of engaging the union, I do believe that there is some room for cautious optimism and that we should approach the negotiations in that way. We should view this as a fresh start and hopefully an end to the war that was being waged against Ausgrid workers under government ownership. Having said that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd and their owners should be under no illusion that we will not take a backward step on the core principles we have specified above and if we have to fight to defend those principles we have a long track record of doing so and will continue to do so.

Thank you to all members for their ongoing patience and support for your colleagues.

In Unity,
Mark Buttigieg
markb@etunsw.asn.au / 0417 208 447

Dear Members

On Thursday last week your EBA Negotiating Team met with the Company Reps (meeting #50+) where the Company tabled an EBA offer which they intend to put out for the employees to vote upon in early March 2017.

Their offer was broken up into 2 parts, their “Core Proposal” (which is substantially unchanged from their offer of October 2016) and an additional 2 Options Proposal which relate to:

  1. Duration of the Proposed Agreement
  2. Wage Increases
  3. Payment of ESRA
  4. Redundancies
  5. Redundancy Payment for Redeployees; and
  6. Increase to the Proposed Training Fund for employees who find themselves in Redeployment from $2000.00 (as per previous offer) to $3000.00.

Remember our 3 key principles, which has been repeatedly endorsed as an outcome to an acceptable EBA, which are:

  1. Job security, and
  2. Maintain Conditions of Employment, and
  3. A reasonable wage increase.

Their offer doesn’t tick the box for any of our above principles…

In brief, please see below for the proper interpretation and impact of Endeavour Energy’s recent EBA Offer (2nd Feb 2017).

Endeavour Energy's “Core Proposal”

Job Security & Conditions of Employment still under attack.

  • Attacks on consultation clauses - NO more consultation just “Presentation and Implementing”. This will eliminate your right to “Procedural Fairness” and having an input and say into your future…
  • Inability to dispute decisions of the Company if their Consultation Clause is agreed to.
  • Dispute Resolution Procedure - Massive reduction to your rights to fight for what is reasonable and fair with the proposed changes.
  • Substantially weaker Contracting Out/Labour Hire Clause – taking into account the impact of the above 3 dot points. You will see more and more of your work being either contracted out or outsourced altogether without any input from you.
  • You will no longer get the hours component on “Travelling on OT”.
  • Uncertainty around your shift start and finish times – Company can change with a weeks’ notice.
  • Attack on the Long Serving Loyal Employees (employed before 1996 with more than 20 years of service) who are entitle to the “Maturing Allowance”
    • Freeze the entitlement to all (approx. 25% of EBA staff), and:
      • If you are over 55 years of age, then your frozen amount will not increase in value by CPI, unlike someone under 55 years of age – but they could request to have it cashed out, and taxed at the marginal rate…
      • If you are under 55 years of age, you have NO ability to cash out, but the frozen amount will increase by CPI until you reach 55 years of age…

BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN LOYAL AND LONG SERVING.

• CIC Shift Allowance - this should have been adjusted/rectified in the Agreement before the current EBA (As Per “Network Shiftwork Arrangements”).

Endeavour Energy's Optional Proposals

 

BE ADVISED:

  • A “YES” vote for any EBA with these Redundancy Provisions in it WILL take you out of the legal Employee Protections of NO Forced Redundancy within the Transitional Sale Act.
  • This will affect EVERYONE – office and field workers alike. 

Make no mistake – this is a serious threat to your way of life:

  • If you have family responsibilities - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!
  • If you have career responsibilities - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!
  • If you value financial stability in your day to day life - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!

Endeavour are trying to buy your rights to Job & Financial Security, Workplace Stability and Procedural Fairness!

YOUR RIGHTS ARE NOT FOR SALE!

Yours In Unity
Brad Currey
Organiser

As a result of representations made by the ETU Ausgrid have agreed to a paid combined unions delegates meeting to be held on on Tuesday 31st January 2017 10am at Silverwater Training Centre, 48-50 Holker Street, Silverwater.

 

The meeting will be addressed by outgoing ETU Secretary Steve Butler and incoming Secretary Dave McKinley. Ausgrid Pty Ltd CEO Richard Gross has also accepted an invitation to address the meeting.

 

By way of background the meeting will recap the EBA negotiations that occurred under the old Ausgrid owners and discuss the logistics of re-commencing EBA negotiations under the new owners - Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd.

 

Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd have made it clear that whilst they understand that the subject matter of EBA negotiations will arise during our part of the meeting, they are not in a position to discuss the company’s EBA negotiating position as bargaining would not have yet formally commenced.

 

It is important that all delegates attend this meeting as it will set the scene for the recommenced EBA negotiating round, under the new owners.

Ausgrid EBA Update - 6 January

Posted on 06-1-2017

Dear Colleague,

ETU State Secretary Steve Butler this week wrote to the CEO of Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd, Richard Gross, with a suggested timetable for the continuation of Agreement negotiations.

The ETU is keen to restart the negotiation process and the Union is looking forward to working with the new management team to get an agreement over the line. 

We will keep you informed as soon as we hear a reply back from Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd.

In Unity,
 
MARK BUTTIGIEG   
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

Ausgrid Update - 21 December

Posted on 21-12-2016

Dear Colleague,

As you would no doubt be aware, on 1 December 2016 Ausgrid was leased by the state government to a consortium consisting of IFM and Australian Super. Since then information regarding the new owners has been virtually non-existent despite numerous representations by the ETU for more detailed information and a request for a delegates meeting to brief our members on the issue.

Yesterday the matter was escalated by the ETU to a hearing at the Fair Work Commission in a bid to clarify the issues and avoid further delays. The hearing was presided over by Senior Deputy President Hamberger and the following matters were raised and discussed;

As of 1 December 2016 all employees of Ausgrid were transferred to a new entity known as Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd, the ETU argued that this had not been clearly and formally communicated to all employees and the Unions. SDP Hamberger questioned if Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd had advised the Fair Work Commission of these changes in ownership as he was unaware as to whether they had done so.

Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd.’s view is that as a result of the transfer of ownership, employer representational rights letters need to be reissued to employees before EBA bargaining can re-commence. The ETU raised concerns regarding the lack of ongoing consultation from the new management team. 

The ETU’s concern is that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd’s position will create further delays in bargaining. This delay would be exacerbated should we have to conduct another protected action ballot to restore our ability to take protected industrial action during the negotiations. Prior to our dispute at the FWC it seems Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd was in no hurry to recommence negotiations.

The ETU argued at the FWC that in order to avoid further delays in bargaining, a meeting should be held as early as possible in January 2017 and that representational rights should be issued ASAP if that is the legal requirement.

Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd has now responded to the ETU requests in the attached correspondence from Richard Gross to Steve Butler. Now that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd has provided the answers sought by the ETU, we are seeking legal opinion prior to moving forward in a bid to restart negotiations as soon as possible.

Click here to read the correspondence from Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross to the ETU.

In Unity
Mark Buttigieg

Working in Heat

Posted on 13-12-2016

Weather forecasters are predicting that temperatures will be in excess of 38*C across NSW while the ACT is expected to reach temperatures exceeding 33*C.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress please follow the links below for further information from SafeWork NSW on working in heat.

SAFEWORK NSW HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

SAFEWORK NSW HOT & COLD ENVIRONMENTS

SAFEWORK NSW MANAGING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT CODE OF PRACTICE

ETU members should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation, including but not limited to taking regular breaks, conducting individual (personal) risk assessment and/or ceasing work completely.

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

In unity,

Dave McKinley - Deputy Secretary

 

There has been an incident in South Australia involving injuries to an employee that occurred as a result of a failure of an EWP.
 
A knuckle on an 18M GMJ EWP failed while the employee was aloft. The employee suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

The EWP was at working height (9m) when the top knuckle pin dislodged, the bucket fell back to its rest position (about 2.5m) with the worker and tools in the bucket. This bucket is 8 years old and had not undergone major rebuilds. 

The pin retaining device appears to have failed. The fulcrum on GMJ EWPS are covered by a shroud and cannot be seen during start up inspections. 

SA Safe Work is investigating and all similar EWPs have been removed from service.

All similar EWPs should be removed from service until such times as members can be assured of their safe operation.

Specifically, and in addition to all other prestart checks, members are to physically check fulcrum pins and pin retaining devices on all similar EWPs prior to any use.

Since the Liberal/Nationals came to government in 2011, Essential Energy has slashed 1,400 regional jobs – 789 Voluntary Redundancy – with the rest coming from retirement and resignations. They have reduced the number of Essential Energy locations across the state from 147 to 100, and despite the company making a $1.2 million loss in the last financial year, Essential Energy PAID THE NSW GOVERNMENT A $28.1 MILLION DIVIDEND!

Analysis of the Essential Energy Annual Report reveals that the better than expected result in 2015-16 has been attributed to:

“… reduced operating costs, particularly in the area of employee costs, contractor expenses and plant costs. The lower employee costs were a result of lower than budgeted employees during the year.”

On top of revealing an addiction to dividends, the Annual Report, quietly tabled on the last sitting day of the NSW Parliament, revealed that Essential Energy executives all received big pay rises over the 2015-16 financial year with the smallest pay increase for the executive team being 4.1% or a $14,000 pay rise in a single year!

The combined executive increases for the top five earners totaled almost $300,000 which, for a company that is implementing hundreds of job cuts, is nothing short of double standards and betrayal by those that lead your organisation.

Leading the pack was Gary Humphries who pocketed an increase of $219,622 according to Essential Energy’s annual reports for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years, representing an increase of more than 40% while others including Luke Jenner, David Nardi & Caroline Hungerford who all pocketed increases of between $14,000 and $24,550 or between 4.1% - 7.8% in the last year.

These executive pay rises, along with the hefty government dividend, could have been used to fund frontline workers and keep hundreds of people employed but Essential Energy has chosen to distribute almost $300,000 in spoils to just half a dozen people.

The ETU is calling on these overpaid executives to return this money to the company in order to minimise jobs losses. We say put your money where your mouth is – you say you are sorry about the cuts – now show that you are sorry through your actions.

When these people next visit your depot on their “roadshow” be sure to remember that they accepted massive pay increases while at the same time finding ways to put you and your workmates out of a job.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary