Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Notice to members: Essential Energy Drug & Alcohol Policy Consultation

Peter Moss - Thursday, September 27, 2018
Essential Energy yesterday announced the company is commencing consultation to update the Drug & Alcohol Policy. CEO John Cleland had the courtesy to inform the ETU last week that they intended to issue a broadcast yesterday announcing the commencement of employee consultation. To date the ETU has as much information as you have received.
Today I requested John convene a face-to-face meeting of all unions to discuss and hopefully agree on a consultation process going forward. As you would be aware, Drug & Alcohol Policies have a long history in the NSW distribution industry including disputation and many court proceedings.
In the ETU’s view, the lack of genuine proper consultation played a significant part in that disputation. I have outlined to John that Essential does not have the best track record on effective consultation and it needs to improve.
At the outset I note the ETU supports proper WH&S Procedures in the workplace, but it needs to be more than words in polices. There is genuine scope for improvement in WH&S but it needs to be backed up by proper training delivered by experts and with ongoing support.
To just say others are doing it, so we should won’t cut it. Essential have not demonstrated that the current system is not adequate. Drug and Alcohol use has many underlying factors that need to be considered. The ETU will ensure that any consultation needs to consider initiatives that go beyond testing.
High-risk industries do have different testing regimes but they also have adapted and implemented initiatives beyond testing. Initiatives that genuinely support and train employees on Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health, impairment and fatigue backed up by proper training and ongoing support from experts in each field.
Essential can certainly improve in all of these areas and we will ensure they are addressed as part of this consultation process.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary


Peter Moss - Thursday, September 20, 2018
Ausgrid has backpaid an estimated $3 million to around 300 tradespeople after union action led by ETU delegate Jamie Baker.

The backpay rectifies underpayments to ETU members forced onto rolling short-term contracts between 2014 and 2016. The contracts and a skills assessment missed by Ausgrid saw workers paid less than EBA rates.

With assistance from ETU organisers, Jamie built a winning case for backpay.

The outcome was payments averaging $10,000 for affected lineworkers, electricians and cable jointers.

Jamie, a lineworker at Oatley depot, said the episode demonstrates the value of union membership.

‘Credit to Ausgrid for doing the right thing in the end, but it was ETU support that got us there’