Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Essential Energy EA update - Draft Agreement 15 Feb

Paul Lister - Monday, February 15, 2016

Dear Colleagues

As you are aware the Essential Energy combined Union delegates from the ETU, USU and PA met on Thursday the 11th February to consider the DRAFT proposal from Essential Energy management.

All delegates are aware of the balance required in the negotiations for a new agreement and the Unions and nominated representatives have made it clear to management that there is a preparedness to negotiate on the difficult matters pressed upon us through the present set of circumstances, but not at any cost.

The ETU have been attempting to negotiate an improvement in the voluntary redundancy package including that this improved package be offered across the organisation to all workers and not targeted to specific employees as is currently happening. Essential Energy originally talked about enhancing the Voluntary Redundancy package by 26 weeks but have since reduced this to 13 a week carrot that is not available to all employees.

Essential Energy’s reduced offer of 13 weeks comes with conditions meaning that many people who would likely accept a VR are excluded while targeting other employees who may wish to say. On top of this the Unions have also suggested a much greater emphasis on mix and match.

The simple entitlement of respect and dignity for workers is not being considered through the cavalier attitude of management who seem hell bent on dismissing the basic tenant of workers everywhere, that is, to be considered in a manner that treats workers as people, not numbers or resources or bits of equipment that can be discarded and put on the rubbish heap, but people with families and communities that depend on them.

The combined Union delegates went through the DRAFT document provided by EE management and concerns were raised over the following matters (the list represents the main items of concern and is not comprehensive);

  • 800 forced redundancies that would take place before 2018 but would be sooner than that.
  • Unlimited forced redundancies at the date the agreement nominally expired, July 2018.
  • The selective approach to redundancy and the selective offering of payments.
  • The change in policy on present occupant positions.
  • The changes to the outsourcing and contracting out of work.
  • The removal of the status quo from the dispute resolution procedure.
  • A two-year wage freeze and an offer of 2.5% or approximately 0.8% per annum over the three years of the DRAFT agreement.
  • Reduction in agreement conditions when called in to work.

The combined Union delegates discussed the many elements of the agreement at length and ultimately resolved the following;

“The combined Union delegates from the ETU, USU and Professionals Australia confirm that the draft, Essential Energy proposal for an agreement is unacceptable and damaging to Union members in its current form and wish to continue negotiations to reach a more balanced agreement.”

The combined Unions will write to Gary Humphreys to continue formal discussion and negotiations with Essential Energy in relation to managements claim for forced redundancy terms to be included in the agreement and that the combined Unions will continue to genuinely consider proposals for forced redundancy.

This correspondence will have the basis of continued negotiation and the desire to reach agreement at its core.

Essential Energy management have told employees that they want to resolve the Enterprise Agreement through negotiation and the combined Unions have made it very clear to management that workers and their Unions want the same thing.

Unfortunately, management have also said that if they can’t get the agreement they want they will use all avenues available to them to reach their goals. Make no mistake, this is a very deliberate threat that is an attempt to get workers to agree to something that may not be in their best interest.

The combined Unions believe that management will put the DRAFT agreement that has been circulated to workers out for a vote. The agreement is not endorsed by the Unions or your employee negotiating representatives.

As a result of management’s approach the combined Unions have been authorised by delegates to make an application to Fair Work for a protected action ballot. The delegates and unions want a negotiated outcome but threats and intimidation from management are unacceptable. 

The ETU will continue to communicate with members as this matter progresses and once again members are reminded to look out for each other and to let Union officers know if there are any concerns about the welfare of fellow workers.

In Solidarity
Steve Butler & Neville Betts