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.