Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

NOTICE TO MEMBERS - 13 December

Bruce Fan - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ausgrid Protected Action Ballot

Members will this week receive ballot papers from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Ausgrid Agreement bargaining protected action vote. The ballot is open to all union members and is being conducted for us to have the legal right to take protected industrial action should thatbecome necessary.

Given that Christmas holidays are upon us it is critically important that all members exercise their vote immediately by ticking yes to all three categories of questions on the ballot paper and returning it via post or a workplace delegate;

  1. Fill in your ballot paper by ticking yes to all three questions.
  2. Put your ballot paper in the declaration envelope and seal it.    
  3. Sign the voter’s declaration on the declaration envelope.
  4. Place the declaration envelope in to the reply-paid envelope and post it immediately.

If you are unable to get to a post box – give the sealed envelope to your work place delegate who will post it on your behalf.

Important: If ongoing discussions do not result in what we think is an acceptable package to put to delegates and members, then we must send Ausgrid a clear message that we mean business by taking protected industrial action. To achieve this - all members should vote yes to all the questions and return the ballot papers ASAP.

Ausgrid protected action ballot

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Please find latest Ausgrid video update for instructions on completing the Ausgrid protected action ballot ASAP - which members will be receiving now.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417208447.

 

Ausgrid Update - 30 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Members will be mailed ballot papers next week for a vote to authorise protected industrial action – it is essential that all ETU members complete the ballot and vote ‘YES’ to every proposed action.

Only a strong majority ‘YES’ vote to every action will enable us to campaign effectively for an acceptable agreement, in the event that matters cannot be resolved in negotiations.

A clear, united “YES’ vote will send a powerful message to Ausgrid management that we are serious about achieving a fair outcome and will back our words with action, if required.

Your ETU negotiators will of course continue to do everything possible to achieve an acceptable result via negotiation. As I write this today, we have reached in-principle agreement on six items. However, two major issues remain outstanding.

Six items agreed in principle, but two key matters unresolved
 
Negotiations have continued this week with in principle agreement on the following major items:

  1. Consultation Clause.
  2. Dispute Settlement Procedure Clause.
  3. Redeployee incentive. On certification of the Agreement, for all redeployees a one off $75,000 incentive payment with a three-week acceptance period after which time the offer is withdrawn.
  4. As at 1 July 2020 a cap of 250 on the number of redeployees that can be made forcibly redundant at the end of the job guarantee period. In other words, Ausgrid can make forcibly redundant up to 250 remaining redeployees as at 1 July 2020.
  5. From 1 July 2020 an ongoing “global” annual cap of 250 to apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies.
  6. An Annual Apprentice intake.

Remaining Major outstanding items

  1. Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme. We are in the process of making sure that any discrepancy between the current skills structure pay rates and the proposed CCR pay rates does not result in any structural long term pay disadvantages as people progress through their career. The nature of how that progression through a career is determined, is also being negotiated.
  2. Pay Rise: Ausgrid’s position remains; 2.5% year 1 plus a one off $1,000 sign on bonus, 2.5% in year 2 and 2% in year 3 (contingent on agreeing to the CCR). The ETU’s position remains 3% per annum, this is not unreasonable given the three to four year wage freeze.

The Protected Action Ballot Timetable

The Fair Work Commission has approved the conducting of a ballot of members for the right to take protected industrial action. We expect ballot papers to begin arriving at members addresses from Monday 11 December.

It is critical that on receiving the ballot papers that all members vote and return the ballots as soon as they receive the ballot papers.

Please ensure that you register a yes vote to all the questions so that the ballot result is effective. Members can either post back the ballot or give them back to their local workplace delegate who will post them.
 
While we continue to negotiate with Ausgrid on the outstanding matters outlined above, it is important for members to understand that these matters are part of a total package. If we are unable to resolve the outstanding issues, then we will proceed to a concerted industrial and political campaign to achieve an outcome which is acceptable to members.
 
In Unity,
 
MARK BUTTIGIEG   
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

Ausgrid EBA Update - 23 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 23, 2017

The combined unions continue to edge closer to an agreement with discussions continuing around annual pay increases in the new agreement and the proposed career progression structure, excluding these two items the ETU believes we are moving closer to an agreement providing these items can be resolved.

The application for protected industrial action has been lodged with the Fair Work Commission and we await a response and order permitting this action - this course of action will be pursued if necessary and we will keep members updated. Below is a video update from ETU Organiser Mark Buttigieg.

 

Ausgrid EBA Update - 17 November

Bruce Fan - Friday, November 17, 2017

In two days of extensive meetings this week between union officials, the broader negotiating committee and Ausgrid management, in principle agreement has been reached in three out of the six areas of major contention;

  1. Consultation Clause; Is almost to the point where the draft wording is agreed on.
  2. Dispute Settlement Procedure Clause; Is almost to the point where the draft wording is agreed on.
  3. Contracting Out Clause; Drafting of this clause is yet to be completed but the principles of that clause are agreed on.

While some progress has been made in areas 4. and 5. below, there is still a significant amount of work to do to bring the two positions closer together;

  1. A post 1 July 2020 “global” redundancy cap which would apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies and a credible mechanism to prevent Ausgrid “stockpiling” redeployees prior to 1 July 2020.
  2. Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme. There are issues to be resolved pertaining to future career progression pay rates, consultation provisions for any significant reduction in numbers of each band required within each work group and the consultative mechanism for determining how people would be judged to have “met” or “exceeded” expectations.
  3. Pay Rise; Ausgrid’s position remains; 2.5% year 1 with 2% in years 2 and 2% in year 3 (contingent on agreeing on CCR). The ETU’s position remains 3% per annum.

In the meantime, an application was today lodged with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for the right to ballot our members for protected industrial action. Whilst we are hopeful more progress will be made next week in schedule negotiations, members should be under no illusion about our resolve to push ahead with a full scale industrial and political campaign should we not be able to reach agreement on the above issues.

Change the Rules Rally - 16 November

Paul Lister - Monday, November 13, 2017

Join us 11.30am Thursday 16 November - Belmore Park, Sydney (near Central Station).

Ausgrid EBA Update - 10 November

Paul Lister - Friday, November 10, 2017

On Tuesday this week the combined union officials attended another meeting with Ausgrid management to work on progressing the agreement. The results of that meeting and the two prior ones were reported to the negotiating committee the next day. The following points represent areas where we believe significant progress has been made.

  1. A Forced Redundancy provision applying from after 1 July 2020 (the end of the job protection legislation) with a Year 1 “global” cap (would apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies) of 300. Exercising of a redundancy program would be conditional on implementing a thorough Voluntary Redundancy EOI program first. If for example 150 people chose to exit the business voluntarily, Ausgrid would only be able to make forcibly redundant 150 in year 1.
  2. A contracting out clause which retains the current clause provisions but with the addition of an oversight committee to have input into Ausgrid’s preferred contractor panel selection.
  3. A Dispute Settlement Procedure which retains the current status quo provisions. There is still debate over how and when status quo would apply.
  4. A Consultation clause which has a criterion of triggering rigorous consultation when the proposed change can be shown to have a significant effect on employees.
  5. A Career, Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme which objectively recognizes skills and performance. There is still significant work to do in this area. The CCR negotiating subcommittee will reconvene next week to continue work on it in a bid to improve the outcomes for employees.
  6. A Three-year agreement. i.e. nominal expiry 3 years after the Agreement is certified by FWC.

Major outstanding issues include:

  • In the pre-job guarantee period (i.e. pre-1 July 2020) Ausgrid’s proposition is that there would be no limit to how many people Ausgrid can make redeployed. This is unacceptable because it would allow Ausgrid to stock-pile redeployees in anticipation of the 1 July 2020 date then exit these redeployees that would not count to the 300-year 1 cap.
  • Ausgrid’s desire to be able to direct redeployees in to what we say is non-meaningful work.
  • The cap that is to apply in years 2 and 3 after 1 July 2020.
  • Pay Rise – Ausgrid’s position is 2.5%, 2 %, 2% with no back pay. Combined unions position is 3%, 3% 3% with some back pay.

Further negotiating meetings are scheduled for next week when we will have further updates.

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

Ausgrid EBA Update - 2 November

Paul Lister - Friday, November 03, 2017

Please see below a video update from ETU Organiser Mark Buttigieg. Should you have any questions please direct these to your workplace organiser or Mark.

 

 

In accordance with the last update, the combined union officials this week attended a two-day intensive negotiation with Ausgrid management in a bid to reach agreement on some basic concepts in relation to the following five major issues:

  1. A post 1 July 2020 Forced Redundancy provision with an annual cap.
  2. A tighter contracting out clause.
  3. A Dispute Settlement Procedure which retains the current status quo provisions.
  4. A Consultation clause which retains employee and union involvement in change.
  5. A Career, Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme which objectively recognizes skills and performance.

We are pleased to report that the two-day discussions proved worthwhile and productive with significant progress and varying degrees of in principle agreement on all five issues above. While agreement on the above remains at an in principle / conceptual stage, we are reasonably confident that we can translate these principles in to EBA clauses which satisfy both sides. Having said that there is a lot of work to do to achieve this, particularly in the CCR scheme.

In terms of a pay rise, whilst this was not the focus of discussions we made it clear to Ausgrid that their current offer of Year 1; 2.5% with subsequent annual 2% increases contingent on implementation of CCR, was inadequate given the 4-year wage freeze.

In the meantime, as instructed by the last delegates meeting on the 11th October - we are finalising our joint application to the FWC for the right to ballot our members to take protected action. It is important that members understand that we are proceeding with this in case negotiations once again break down. We must retain the ability to bring the matter to a head via protected industrial action if necessary. Whilst we are confident this will not be necessary we have been instructed by our members and their delegates to bring the matter to a head one way or another. It would be premature to say we have this agreement over the line.

We will be reporting back to the broader EBA negotiating committee on Wednesday 8th November with some reasonably firm proposals on the above issues. In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to contact your negotiating committee representative or respective organiser.

In Uniy - Mark Buttigieg 
 

Ausgrid EBA Update - 25 October

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 26, 2017

On Wednesday the negotiating committee met with Ausgrid management to continue negotiations on the Ausgrid Agreement.

As promised last week, the combined unions again attempted to make progress by putting on the table a package of the four contentious clauses -- outside of the also contentious CCR proposal. These clauses have previously been identified as roadblocks to an Agreement.

A summary of our basic position on each clause was put as follows:

  1. A post 1 July 2020 Forced Redundancy provision with an annual cap of 50 forced redundancies per financial year and an extra payment of $100,000 for all forced redundancies. The higher Forced Redundancy payout means that the cap is a genuine one and applies to forced redundancies not voluntary redundancies. Without a significant differential between a voluntary and forced package, the cap becomes meaningless.
  2. A contracting out clause that gives members and their delegates oversight of contracting out and some ability to prevent contracting out to rogue operators and the lowest bidder.
  3. A Dispute Settlement Procedure that retains the current status quo provisions but places strict timetables on disputes.
  4. A consultation provision that places strict timetables on the length of consultation required by Ausgrid.
  5. A 3% annual wage increase over four years.
  6. A Career, Capability and Remuneration scheme that objectively recognises skills and performance.

This package represents real concessions to Ausgrid while continuing to deliver on our key outcomes of job security, no trade-offs and a decent wage rise. It is a position that we think is worth fighting for all the way.

We also made it clear to Ausgrid that -- while we accept that the current skills structure mechanism for career advancement is somewhat dysfunctional and needs to improve - Ausgrid’s proposed CCR alternative will result in a severely downgraded pay scale for all your career paths. We have put the view that a combination of skills-based progression and performance-based pay may be a way forward.

The union also put the view that -- to have a hope of reaching a negotiated outcome -- we need to reach agreement on some basic concepts in relation to the major issues above. The fact that Ausgrid has already tabled an EBA proposal when some of the fundamental concepts on the major issues have not been agreed to makes negotiation very difficult. Ausgrid noted this view and has agreed to a smaller working group of union officials and Ausgrid management to try and reach in-principle agreement on the major issues above. This smaller group would then report back to the larger EBA negotiating committee with a view to working up the corresponding clauses if agreement on the basic concepts can be achieved.

In the meantime, in accordance with the resolution of the delegates meeting held on 11 October, we are finalising our application to the Fair Work Commission for a ballot of members to take protected industrial action. In accordance with what members have been telling us they want, the EBA matter will be brought to a head over the coming months.

Finally, Ausgrid has rejected our request for paid depot meetings and has said that we must hold meetings outside normal work hours. This is a concerning change from the last time we toured depots when access was given during work hours. It tells you a lot about Ausgrid’s unwillingness to allow us to speak to our members. What are they afraid of? If they think their current proposal is so great, surely it will sell itself! As a result, I will be scheduling after hours meetings over the next few weeks. It is important that these are well attended so that members get a thorough update on the negotiations and the industrial campaign we are about to conduct.

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

EBA Meeting Wednesday 17 October Update

Paul Lister - Friday, October 20, 2017

On Wednesday the negotiating committee met with Ausgrid management to continue negotiations on the Ausgrid Agreement. Most of the meeting was occupied with Ausgrid providing dollar amounts attached to their proposed Career Capability and Remuneration scheme. We will shortly be providing detailed individual examples of why this scheme will result in pay and career paths being shut down.

It is important that members understand how this scheme works and why Ausgrid are so desperate to implement it – because it will save them millions of dollars on their wage bill going forward. Under the current skills progression scheme employees can progress up a career path so long as they provide evidence that they:

  • have the skill.
  • Ausgrid needs the skill and
  • use the skill.

Points are allocated to each skill as they are attained, and progression is based on provision of that evidence. Ausgrid do not like this scheme because they say it results in a level of progression which is too automatic – in other words it costs them too much to pay everyone what they’re worth.

Under the proposed Ausgrid scheme you will no longer proceed up your career path based on evidence but on managerial discretion. If you are a Line worker or Jointer or Subs fitter and you could have reasonably expected to progress up to a certain level in your structure by gaining skills, now you will be expected to use those skills and perform the higher-grade duties with no extra pay. If your manager decides that this “exceeds expectations” then they may grant you some extra pay points along the way – but they don’t have to. Then when you apply for a vacant role via the normal merit appointment process you will be appointed at the new level pay point of that role which in most circumstances is significantly less than the current value of those roles. For some classifications for example - the top of the structure - will drop by $20,000.00

Ausgrid are saying is that they are going to save a huge bucket of money over the life of the agreement by supressing your career paths and in return you’ll get a few crumbs – if your manager says you can have them!

At the same EBA meeting the combined unions also asked Ausgrid what their position on a cap on forced redundancies is and Ausgrid’s response was to say that they had not considered the cap. In other words, they came back to the meeting with nothing. Ask yourself why would Ausgrid not agree to a cap on how many people they can force out the door after July 2020? The only conclusion one can come to is that they want to sack everyone.  Currently they can’t do that because the current agreement contains no forced redundancies and we will not negotiate a new agreement that does not include a cap which is necessary to provide job security for you.

In a bid to progress negotiations - the combined unions suggested that we present a package of 4 contentious clauses which have previously been identified as road blocks by Ausgrid for them to respond;

  1. Forced Redundancy provision with an annual cap – (Ausgrid concession needed)
  2. Tightened up contracting out clause – (Ausgrid concession needed)
  3. Modified consultation clause (Union concession needed).
  4. Modified Dispute settlement clause (Union concession needed).

This package will be presented at the next EBA meeting on Wednesday 25th October. We are doing everything in our power to get a negotiated outcome but Ausgrid are making this much more difficult than it needs to be by demanding concessions and taking from workers while not giving anything back.

In the meantime, the unions will be applying to the Fair Work Commission early next week for the right to ballot our members to take industrial action – this is in line with last week’s delegates resolution.

I will shortly be touring depots and updating members on these matters. It is important that members remember that we only get decent outcomes when we are prepared to stand up for our fair share and fight. We will always talk to Ausgrid but there comes a time when we need action, now is that time.

Lets not forget that between 2014-16 Ausgrid executive’s received an increase averaging 5.33% while everyone else’s real wages went backwards. You deserve an unconditional annual wage increase and 3% is very reasonable.

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