Electricity, Water and Utilities

Your combined union negotiating team met with Ausgrid over yesterday and today for the 5th meeting since negotiations recommenced on 22 February this year. Over the past few weeks sub working groups off the main negotiating team have met on two separate occasions (without management) to discuss proposals for the headline issues listed below. The full negotiating team also reconvened on Monday this week to review these proposals prior to the EBA meetings with Ausgrid. Below is a summary of the EBA meeting progress to date.

 

      EBA Day 1. 12 April 2017; dealt with the following headline issues


Redeployment / Redundancy; There appears to be a consensus that the no forced redundancy provisions of the legislation will be honoured and reflected in the agreement. That is to say, there will be no forced redundancies prior to the June 2020. Productive discussion is occurring around the following issues associated with this subject;

·   The operation of a thorough mix and match program, more thorough training and priority access to internal jobs as a precondition for identification of future redeployees – this issue overlaps with the current consultation over Ausgrid’s recent proposal for another reduction of 300 full time equivalent roles in financial year 2018.

·   An incentive for redeployees to exit the business which includes a more generous training component.

·   The nature of redundancies post June 2020 when the job guarantee period expires and

·    A regular Apprentice / Trainee / Cadet intake.

 

Consultation / Dispute Settlement; The combined unions tabled draft clauses which make the consultation and dispute processes more defined and systematic in terms of how consultation occurs. Under the combined Unions proposal, there are associated timetables which would govern the length of consultation and disputes based on the breadth and complexity of the proposal under consultation or dispute. The proposals also make more specific references to a delegate structure, nominated and recognized in a revised delegate’s charter. A revised delegate’s charter clause detailing the proposed delegate’s structure and including scheduled paid delegates meetings was also tabled.

 

Classification structures and allowances; some progress has been made in this area, however given the complexity of the current skills structures which sit under the associated classifications, the consensus is that it will only be possible in this Agreement, to arrive at a road map of how we might transition to a new classification structure. The aim is to have a new classification structure which is simplified and emphasizes multiskilling. The proposal to move forward with this is that the Classification Structure / Allowances sub working group will attend workshops with Ausgrid management through May to work on a proposal which meets these criteria. I have listed the members of that working group further below and urge all members to communicate their input on this matter with these delegates.

 

EBA Day 2; 13 April 2017; dealt with the following secondary issues


Ausgrid presented a grab bag of speculative claims most of which were remnants from the previous owners. These claims relate to Allowances, Payroll frequency, Management discretion on the taking of RDO’s, Annual Leave and Long Service Leave, and leave at half pay. Most of the Ausgrid claims would result in a loss of conditions for members and as we have consistently said from day 1 we will not be in the business of trading off basic conditions. We made this abundantly clear to Ausgrid. Having said that, there may well be some areas for reform where suggestions are sensible and do not result in a material loss of conditions for members. We are and should always be open minded about any such proposals.

 

Other issues raised by the unions included;

·    Paid delegates meetings.

·    Simplification of shift work clauses and rationalization of shift allowances.

·    Reformed contracting out clause.


Read more to download the Notice to Member

Live L.V. Jointing accident.

On Monday 20th March at about 3am one of our members Jake Archer suffered a serious electric shock while performing Live L.V. underground jointing in a pit in the Sydney CBD. It is with great relief that I can report Jake is now recovering in hospital and is in a stable condition. If not for the diligence and training of his fellow ETU members who performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, this could have quite easily resulted in a fatality. Our thoughts are with Jake and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Live jointing is something that the union has raised concerns about in the past and the fact is that it results in far too many accidents. There is something seriously wrong with a system of work when it has to be done alive in preference to properly organizing and planning jobs in a way so that interruptions to supply have to occur and people can work safely on mains and apparatus in an isolated and de-energised state. To their credit and in consultation with the ETU, Ausgrid has today placed a suspension on all Live L.V. work – that includes suburban and Sydney CBD work. I have attached a copy of that suspension notice from Ausgrid. The union fully supports this suspension and will work with Ausgrid to understand the cause of this and other related accidents in a bid to develop better work processes around L.V. jointing. In the meantime I ask that everyone observes this suspension to the letter.

CLICK HERE FOR THE AUSGRID SAFETY NOTICE.

Ausgrid Agreement Negotiations.

Your negotiating team met with Ausgrid management yesterday in what was the third meeting under the new owners - Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd. Several matters were discussed including the following headline issues;

Redeployment / Redundancy; The combined unions have consistently made it clear that the employment security provisions of the legislation governing the recent lease transaction are non-negotiable. In a nutshell that means that there cannot be any forced redundancies prior to June 2020 when those job security provisions expire. For your information please see the attached resolution from the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) which underwrites this position with support from the whole union movement. Ausgrid appear to be sympathetic to this point of view but have expressed concern as to how they will deal with surplus employees in the redeployee pool which they say will only grow in size over the life of the agreement.

Consultation / Dispute Settlement; Ausgrid have expressed concern over the time that consultation and disputes take and also raised an issue with the status quo provision of the disputes settlement procedure. The combined unions made it clear that the status quo provisions were not up for negotiation. In terms of the mechanics of the consultation clause, our view is that consultation can be made more efficient and expedited if consultation is both up front and genuine in nature i.e. not consultation on how a predetermined managerial decision is arrived at but consultation on ideas the organisation may be considering with opportunity for genuine input from our members. The point was also made that members and their workplace delegates needed to be given more autonomy, recognition and authority to negotiate early on during the process.

Classification structures and allowances; Discussion related to a more simplified and rationalised system of classifications and allowances which would involve multiskilling and the incorporation of allowances in to the classification hourly rates.

Smaller working groups have been formed off the main negotiating committee to formulate more detailed proposals from the unions in each of these areas. The delegates forming these groups are listed on the following page. I encourage all members who may have a contribution to make to feed this through their respective delegates up to these negotiating committee representatives. This is your Agreement and if you have input you should provide us with that so we can consider it as part of our position during the negotiations.

All proposals will be ultimately be brought back to the full negotiating team for approval before being tabled in the negotiations with Ausgrid. Please be aware that all negotiating positions are ultimately subject to the approval of further full delegates meetings should we begin to reach a negotiated outcome with Ausgrid.

On that note, I have to say that our experience with Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd at this early stage of the negotiations has been far more encouraging than the experience we had when the former (State Government) owners were on a mission to strip the company of cash and attack unions - prior to the sell off.

There is now genuine dialogue and a will on both sides to try and reach agreement on a number of keys issues. Whether this goodwill will be enough to transform in to proposals that will give effect to both parties’ interests remains to be seen, but we are much more positive about that prospect than we have had reason to be over the past 3 years.

CLICK HERE FOR A FULL COPY OF THIS NOTICE.

With the footy season gearing up the ETU Footy Tipping Comp is now open for people to join. Try your hand a tipping your weekly favourites and get you workmates to join in the fun.

We will again be giving away periodical prizes through the season based on weekly results while the overall competition winner will receive one free week accommodation at the ETU Holiday Cabins at Nambucca Heads on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED TO THE ETU FOOTY TIPPING COMP HOME PAGE.

The competition password is: Electric

In order to be awarded a prize participants must be financial members of the ETU NSW and ACT Branch.

In Unity,

Dave McKinley - Secretary

It has come to the union’s attention that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd are misleading employees regarding the Agreement provisions in respect of stand down after working overtime. The attached documents and variations of them are being used by various managers across the supply area to subvert the stand down provisions of the Agreement. The Ausgrid Agreement is very clear on stand down provisions. I have included the relevant clauses below;

15.5 Rest period after Overtime
15.5.1 Where overtime is necessary, whenever possible it shall be organised so that employees shall have at least ten (10) consecutive hours off duty. If so much overtime is worked that an employee cannot take a ten (10) consecutive hour break before the normal commencement time, they shall be entitled to time off without loss of normal pay until they have had a ten (10) consecutive hour break. If a ten (10) hour break is not given then the employee is paid double time for all hours worked until a ten (10) consecutive hour break is taken.
This means that after working overtime – any overtime – you take a 10 hr break or you get paid double time until a ten hour break is taken. This is irrespective of how long a break you might have had prior to the overtime. The attached document implies that if you have had a 10hr break prior to working the overtime then you do not have to take a 10hr break after. This is a misapplication of the Agreement. The clause clearly refers to Rest period after Overtime.
15.5.2 If a day worker is recalled to work overtime between the time determined by extending the employee’s usual ceasing time on the previous day by eight (8) hours and 0400 hours, the employee’s normal starting time the next day shall be put back by the number of hours worked between those times or paid at double time for the number of hours worked between those times.
This means that if you are recalled to work overtime between the hours of; finish time + 8hrs and 0400hrs, you only get stood down with pay for the number of hours you worked between those times or you get paid double time until that duration of a break is taken. For example if your start time is 0700 and your finish time is 15:30 and you get called in at midnight and work from midnight to 0400 then you would not start work until 11am the following day or get paid double time until that 4hr break is taken. Anything outside the span of hours above is simply reverts to the 10hr break rule.
Management has been using the attached flow charts, which are a breach of the Ausgrid Agreement. As a result of this it is apparent that many of you will actually be entitled to payment at double time when such breaks described above were not taken. I encourage all of you in this situation to make the relevant claims you are entitled to under the Agreement. This will involve consulting your own records and / or requesting time sheet records from your area management. If there are any issues with you getting this information please contact your local delegate who will assist with the process.


Ausgrid EBA Update - 8 Feb

Posted on 08-2-2017

Dear Colleague,

The combined union delegates met on Tuesday 31st January 2017 at Ausgrid Silverwater Training Centre. The meeting was addressed by outgoing ETU Secretary Steve Butler, incoming Secretary Dave McKinley and Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd CEO, Richard Gross. Mr. Gross gave a summary of the challenges and opportunities he sees for the organisation going forward and was questioned at length by our delegates.

Mr.Gross was not prepared to give a commitment on the issue of forced redundancies one way or another but did say that he views the EBA bargaining process as a complete reset and was looking at every aspect of the business in the context of the upcoming EBA negotiations. He also stated that he wanted to see the organisation become competitive and pursue contestable markets. In terms of commitments Mr. Gross gave an undertaking that representation rights letters would be mailed to all employees within two weeks of the meeting and that he expected the first EBA meeting would take place before the end of February.

Steve Butler gave an industry report focusing on the Essential Energy negotiations and the associated legal actions which led to arbitration on the Essential Agreement. The incoming Secretary Dave McKinley thanked Steve and noted that given this was effectively Steve’s last day on the job, it was fitting that he address Ausgrid delegates. All delegates gave Steve a long round of applause in thanks for his huge effort over many years as both the organizer for Ausgrid and Secretary of the union.

The meeting proceeded and elected the following EBA negotiating committee representatives;

The meeting discussed our negotiating position with respect to the EBA and it was agreed that the consistently maintained principles of;

  1. Job security.
  2. No trade off in conditions
  3. A reasonable wage outcome.

- Continue to be the guiding principles in the negotiations.

To that end the following log of claims was unanimously endorsed by the meeting;

  • No forced redundancies.
  • 3% per annum wage rise with an effective backdate to 1 Dec 2016.
  • Nominal expiry date of 1 Dec 2020.
  • An improved contracting out clause.

Other possible claims were discussed at length but the overwhelming position of the meeting was that the claims should be kept to a minimum, be simple and directly address the three principles specified above. If members have any concerns or suggestions they should feed these back through their workplace delegates and in turn through the negotiating representatives in the list above. These will then be discussed and considered by the negotiating committee. I will today write to Ausgrid advising them of the outcomes of the meeting including the nominated representatives and the claims.

Members should expect to see representational rights letters in the mail from Ausgrid within the next week. I remind all members that if you do not respond to these letters then your default bargaining agent will be the ETU. It is important that all non-members understand that their interests will not be represented at the negotiating meetings and that they are not permitted to take part in any subsequent industrial campaign / action that the union may engage in.

I encourage all non-members to share the load with your workmates and join the union to get full representation. Members and delegates should be actively encouraging this.

Given the comments to date by the new CEO and the stance of the new owners in general, particularly in respect of engaging the union, I do believe that there is some room for cautious optimism and that we should approach the negotiations in that way. We should view this as a fresh start and hopefully an end to the war that was being waged against Ausgrid workers under government ownership. Having said that Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd and their owners should be under no illusion that we will not take a backward step on the core principles we have specified above and if we have to fight to defend those principles we have a long track record of doing so and will continue to do so.

Thank you to all members for their ongoing patience and support for your colleagues.

In Unity,
Mark Buttigieg
markb@etunsw.asn.au / 0417 208 447

As a result of representations made by the ETU Ausgrid have agreed to a paid combined unions delegates meeting to be held on on Tuesday 31st January 2017 10am at Silverwater Training Centre, 48-50 Holker Street, Silverwater.

 

The meeting will be addressed by outgoing ETU Secretary Steve Butler and incoming Secretary Dave McKinley. Ausgrid Pty Ltd CEO Richard Gross has also accepted an invitation to address the meeting.

 

By way of background the meeting will recap the EBA negotiations that occurred under the old Ausgrid owners and discuss the logistics of re-commencing EBA negotiations under the new owners - Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd.

 

Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd have made it clear that whilst they understand that the subject matter of EBA negotiations will arise during our part of the meeting, they are not in a position to discuss the company’s EBA negotiating position as bargaining would not have yet formally commenced.

 

It is important that all delegates attend this meeting as it will set the scene for the recommenced EBA negotiating round, under the new owners.

Ausgrid EBA Update - 6 January

Posted on 06-1-2017

Dear Colleague,

ETU State Secretary Steve Butler this week wrote to the CEO of Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd, Richard Gross, with a suggested timetable for the continuation of Agreement negotiations.

The ETU is keen to restart the negotiation process and the Union is looking forward to working with the new management team to get an agreement over the line. 

We will keep you informed as soon as we hear a reply back from Ausgrid Management Pty Ltd.

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

Ausgrid Update - 21 December

Posted on 21-12-2016

Dear Colleague,

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.

Click here to read the correspondence from Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross to the ETU.

In Unity
Mark Buttigieg

Working in Heat

Posted on 13-12-2016

Weather forecasters are predicting that temperatures will be in excess of 38*C across NSW while the ACT is expected to reach temperatures exceeding 33*C.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress please follow the links below for further information from SafeWork NSW on working in heat.

SAFEWORK NSW HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

SAFEWORK NSW HOT & COLD ENVIRONMENTS

SAFEWORK NSW MANAGING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT CODE OF PRACTICE

ETU members should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation, including but not limited to taking regular breaks, conducting individual (personal) risk assessment and/or ceasing work completely.

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions about working in heat please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

In unity,

Dave McKinley - Deputy Secretary