Electricity, Water and Utilities

Dear Colleague.

As you are aware the new owners of Ausgrid, Australian Super and IFM Investors (Industry Super Funds), are due to take over the management of the company in the coming weeks. The ETU is aware that the new owners are preparing to conduct a companywide roadshow to “sell” themselves to staff.

Don’t believe the spin, members should take this opportunity to pressure the new owners to commit to job protections covered by legislation through an ongoing commitment to no forced redundancy.

Unions, and Super Funds backed by union members, continually advocate for a different style of management, one of inclusion, respect and mutual benefits and this change in ownership presents an opportunity for Australian Super and IFM Investors to demonstrate their commitment to these principles.

The ETU is ready to negotiate and cooperate providing the interest of the workforce is acknowledged and secured. At the same time the ETU is ready to fight, regardless of who the owner is, to secure the intent of the job protection legislation through an enforceable agreement of no forced redundancy for the life of any new agreement. Your union is ready to launch a campaign if the new owners intend to deliver something different, a campaign that will involve high profile media, social media, political and grass roots activities.

Finally, I remind members that we have available to us a range of industrial action that we will draw upon if necessary however in the first instance we are prepared to negotiate in good faith to secure the outcome that Ausgrid workers deserve.

Your interest is our business and we will do whatever it takes to secure the best possible outcome.

In unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary

PS The new management company Ausgrid Pty Ltd was registered on 20 October and their Board was subsequently announced with directors: Ashley Barker, Hugh Gleeson, Peter McGarry, Michael Hanna, Cath Bowtell, Jason Peasley and Prosper Sebafundi.

The Fair Work Commission is continuing their work on the Essential Energy workplace determination and have advised lawyers representing the combined unions that they expect to hand down a decision in two weeks’ time.

Without speculating we do not know exactly what will be in the Fair Work Commissions final workplace determination however it is fair to say that there will be some elements that are not favourable and some elements that we can work with.

Be under no illusion, had Essential Energy’s agreement cancellation case proceeded we would be in a much worse position and it is likely that, while there will be some difficult elements of the workplace determination, it should be better than any offer made by Essential Energy during negotiations.

As soon as the union has the full details of the workplace determination and we are permitted by the Fair Work Commission to communicate this detail we will be in contact with members. I have asked organisers to be on hand to answer questions and enquiries from members and to schedule depot visits following the release of the Fair Work Commission determination.

In the meantime, Justin Page has taken over from Neville Betts in the role of coordinating the ETU at Essential Energy and Justin’s can be contacted on justinp@etunsw.asn.au or 0414 877 301.

Yours in unity
Steve Butler
Secretary.

On the 25th July 2016, the ETU and Endeavour Energy were back at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) continuing discussions as per the decision of the Full Bench of FWC. At this hearing it was agreed to identify all employees who currently receive ELA into 3 categories.

Categories are as follows;

  1. Grandfathered Employees,
  2. Employees required by the regulatory regime to carry out their duties, and
  3. Employees who potentially do not fall into the above 2 categories.

On the 17th October 2016, Endeavour Energy sent correspondence to FWC and the ETU in relation to the above.  This correspondence identified how many employees are currently receiving ELA and outlined the methodology Endeavour used to establish and quantify employees into the above mention 3 categories, ie;

  1. Total receiving ELA = 466
  2. Category 1 – Grandfathered Employees = 319
  3. Category 2 – Required by the regulatory regime =  21
  4. Category 3 – Others = 118

Last Wednesday 2nd Nov, 2016, Endeavour Energy and the ETU were back in FWC providing a report back to FWC and discussing the above mentioned correspondence.  At this conference Endeavour Energy confirmed details around the 3 categories, such as;

  1. Cat 1 – Would retain the ELA while they remain in their current role,
  2. Cat 2 – Would retain the ELA due to their job requirements, and
  3. Cat 3 – Potentially could lose the payment of ELA.  This will be subject to further discussions between the Company and the ETU in the near future. The discussions will be based around if anyone identified in Category 3 should be re-evaluated into Category 1 or 2. These would need to be evidence based discussions.

I will keep you informed as further information comes to hand.

Yours in unity
Brad Currey
Organiser

DON’T BE FOOLED – WHEN IS A PAY RISE NOT A PAY RISE?
Impact of Endeavour Energy’s EBA (Package) Offer

Dear Members,

In brief, please see below the proper interpretation and impact of Endeavour Energy’s recent EBA Offer;

Job Security

  • Attacks on consultation clauses - NO more consultation just “Presentation and Implementing”.
  • Inability to dispute decisions of the Company if the Consultation Clause is agreed to.  You will be forced to accept all decisions as a rule.  We will not just ‘Grin and bear it’!
  • Substantially weaker Contracting Out/Labour Hire Clause – taking into account the impact of the above 2 dot points.
  • Job Security gone with forced redundancies able to be implemented at the whim of EnE;
    • Current VR Package NOT guaranteed – at discretion of Endeavour Energy.
    • NO job security once in Redeployment and a substantial reduction in Redundancy Packages under an Involuntary Redundancy:
      • MAXIMUM of 26 weeks (Notice Period) in Redeployment.  Which is included as part of the total 78 weeks capped payout, regardless of years of service if you are a long serving employee.
      • Effectively the involuntary redundancy payout is capped at 52 weeks (26 + 52 = 78wks).
    • No tax benefit on the “26 week Notice Period” component of the Redundancy Payout.

 

  • This will affect EVERYONE – office and field workers alike.  You can be FORCED OUT! And you can expect the MINIMUM entitlements. We cannot normalise INSTABILITY in the workforce.
  • Uncertainty around your shift start and finish times – Company can change with a weeks’ notice.

 

  • 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 careers responsibilities - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!
    • If you value stability in your day to day life - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!

Wage Increase (a one-off 2.5% increase to the Base Hourly Rate)

  • 64% of employees under the EBA (who receive ESRA) will get an increase in their gross income of next to nothing with the removal of this allowance being paid as an “All Purpose” Allowance;
    • Based on a Linesman Grade 5 Current Wage Rate - Approx. $6.91 (gross) increase in your weekly wage (Excluding Super)
  • A Minimum Loss of $15,000 on Super Payouts for Defined Benefits Members with Full Points and 30 Year.

PLUS:
 Loss of $120 a Week when on Annual Leave, and
 Loss of $120 a Week when On Long Service Leave, and
 Loss of $26 a day On Sick Leave -  8hr Worker, and
 Loss of $26 a day if on Jury Duty -  8hr Worker, and
 Loss of $26 when on a REC Day or Public Holiday, and
 Loss of $6.66 an hour on double time overtime or $4.99 for time & half.
 Loss potentially for Apprentices on Leave of over 15% of their pay.

Even without these financial losses EnE are trying to buy your right to job security and workplace stability!
*** ALL THIS FOR A ONE-OFF PAYMENT OF 2.5% - I DON`T THINK SO – YOU DO THE MATHS!! ***

Other Conditions of Employment

  • You will no longer get the hours component on “Travelling on OT”.
  • For staff who receive ESRA, loss to your Current Entitlements of $3.33 an hour for every hour of leave in your leave balance (1000hrs= $3330).
  • Attack on the Long Serving Loyal Employees who are entitle to “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 – BLATANT DISCRIMINATION.
    • If you are under 55 years of age, you have NO ability to cash out…
  • CIC Shift Allowance - this should have been adjusted/rectified in the Agreement before the current EBA (As Per “Network Shiftwork Arrangements”).

YOUR RIGHTS ARE NOT FOR SALE!

Unions NSW will be holding a lunchtime Workers Compensation rally outside NSW Parliament on 4 November 2016 at 12:30pm

The rally coincides with public hearings for the first review of the 2012 workers compensation changes.

Unions NSW has made an extensive submission to the Law and Justice Committee painting a horrifying picture of the scale of the devastation wreaked by the changes to workers compensation: from suicides to soup kitchens and everything in between.

At the rally on 4 November 2016 we will be hearing from injured workers and highlighting the harsh impact of the 2012 changes on the injured workers of NSW and their families.

There will also be regional events:

Wollongong - 31 October 2016
Orange - 2 November 2016
Newcastle - 3 November; and
A date for an event in Lismore is being finalised.

By keeping the pressure on the Government about workers comp we have won significant changes including more than doubling the medical cap and reducing the threshold for lifetime cover among other changes. This rally is an important part of our plan to keep winning improvements to the scheme.

Sydney Event Details:
Outside NSW Parliament, Macquarie St Sydney
12:30pm on Friday 4 November 2016

Dear Colleague.

The Fair Work full bench has not yet handed down their decision on our agreement which will impact ETU members employed at Essential Energy.

The decision may be days or weeks away but the ETU want to ensure members are prepared when the decision is finally delivered.

The consultation provisions that will be included in any decision will mean that management have a consultative requirement to discuss with employees over any plans on major change and given managements vigorous arguments about sacking workers the company will be hoping and expecting to get rid of workers as soon as possible.

The obligation to consult means the company will be required to discuss changes with employees prior to taking any action and workers will be able to tell management that they want the ETU involved in any discussions, ETU members are strongly encouraged to tell the company they want the ETU involved at all times. If Essential Energy do not consult then they will be in breach of the workplace determination and the ETU will take the company to court, again!!  

Your new CEO, John Cleland, has said that regardless of the outcome he would not push people of a cliff, except for those workers already on redeployment,  and he would take a couple of days to figure out what he is able to do.

ETU members are advised to immediately contact the ETU if management approach them about any type of change within the organisation, including, but not limited to, any interpretation on redundancy. 

This will be a time where we will need to work through potentially difficult situations and the full extent of the exact provisions and entitlements in the workplace determination will require further explanation and discussion.

When the Full Bench do make their determination the ETU will provide updated information.  

In unity,
Steve Butler

 

Ausgrid Update - 26 October

Posted on 26-10-2016

Dear Colleague.

As you are aware Australian Super and IFM made a successful bid to purchase a 50.4% share in Ausgrid, the acceptance of the bid was reported in the media on Monday the 20th October 2016.

I am advised that the sale process will take another five weeks or so to complete putting the transfer date for the new owners at about the 24th November 2016.

I have been assured that meetings with the new owners will take place and we are awaiting a confirmed date.

The primary issues that the ETU are pursuing are the same as those we have been campaigning for with Ausgrid management and the NSW Government over the past two years and that is job security along with a degree of certainty for workers employed by Ausgrid.

Ausgrid management have briefed the Unions today on the immediate future and there is a lack of any concrete information and the only offering to come from the company today was that they will be intent on keeping everyone informed of the progress of the sale and that Q&A documents will be updated and provided.

Ausgrid have advised that they want to continue the negotiations around the administrative matters that are outstanding in the agreement but they cannot give any undertakings on any sign off and will be acting on instructions from the new owners.

Ausgrid have also indicated that at the completion of the sale a new board will be appointed and that the company will have to issue new representational rights letter to all employees covered by the enterprise agreement after the transaction is completed. The Union will seek advice on if the reissuing of representational rights letters is required for the bargaining to continue.

The combined Unions have requested a Union delegates meeting to enable delegates to provide feedback from workers and to be updated on what is going on.

Further detail will be provided as it comes to hand.

Yours in solidarity

Steve Butler
Secretary

ETU Newcaslte Have Moved

Posted on 24-10-2016

The ETU office is Newcastle has relocated to the following address:

Hunter Workers Building
Suite 4B
Ground Floor
406-408 King Street
Newcastle West  NSW  2302

Phone, fax and email remain unchanged:

Phone: 02 4968 2488
Fax: 02 4968 3466
Email: etunewcastle@etunsw.asn.au

Yesterday the state government announced the 50.4% sale of Ausgrid for $16.189 billion. The government refers to this amount as “gross proceeds” which is code for; once we pay the debt down that we owe, the “net proceeds” to the public are a mere $6 billion. The buyer is a consortium consisting of IFM and Australian Super.

The transfer of a publicly owned monopoly asset in to private hands is never a good thing because inevitably the profit motive of a monopoly private owner results in higher prices and lower service and the loss of a revenue generating asset to the public. As private owners go – we could do worse than an Australian Super fund.

ETU Secretary Steve Butler has said that he understands the sale process will take another five weeks and during that time the ETU will be talking to senior IFM and Australian Super management. The ETU will be seeking a commitment from the new owners to honour the job security measures contained in the sales act legislation. These include the maintenance of the minimum mandated employee numbers, 5 year job guarantees for continuing employees and associated no forced redundancy provisions.
It is time for Ausgrid management to stop going down the path they have been on which is to contradict that legislation and introduce forced redundancies.
We will keep you informed of developments as they occur.
Power unions have demanded that the new owners of a controlling stake in Australia’s largest electricity distribution network, Ausgrid, commit to a legally binding agreement that ensures existing employment numbers and service standards are retained at the privatised business.

Their demand follow today’s announcement by NSW Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer GladysBerejiklian that AustralianSuper and IFM Investors would take 50.4 per cent ownership in the company, delivering a one-off windfall of $6 billion to NSW after debt is repaid.
The Electrical Trades Union and United Services Union, which represent the majority of Ausgrid workers, will also continue their work with Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile to deliver water-tight job protections through the NSW Parliament.
“We are continuing to work with Fred Nile and others in the NSW Parliament to ensure ironclad laws are in place to protect the jobs of Ausgrid workers and service standards for consumers under private ownership,” ETU secretary Steve Butler said.
“This process is particularly important given Ausgrid management have previously flagged their intention to test the legal standing of existing protections through the Fair Work Commission.
“We are also demanding that the new owners, AustralianSuper and IFM Investors, publicly commit to retain all existing workers, to abide by the five-year job guarantees negotiated by the parliament prior to this sale, and to maintain the high standard of service that Ausgrid customers
currently receive.”
USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said the unions would be writing to AustralianSuper and IFM Investors seeking an urgent meeting to discuss staff protections and the future operations at the company.
“Electricity distribution is a natural monopoly,” Mr Kelly said. “That means that if service standards drop, if maintenance is reduced or emergency response times blowout, consumers have no ability to choose an alternative supplier for their power.
“That is why unions have fought against this sale from day one, and why we will continue to fight to ensure the best possible outcome for workers and consumers going forward.
“Today’s announcement will not see us back away from our commitment to protect the jobs of our members and the services that Ausgrid provides to the people of NSW.”
Media comment: Steve Butler (ETU) 0414 877 679 / Graeme Kelly (USU) 0417 420 919