Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Final AER determination 2014-19

Paul Lister - Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dear colleagues

The AER has today released their final determination outlining the amount of revenue the transmission and distribution networks can recover from their regulated asset base over the period 2014-2019.

Members will recall that management from some network companies decided to tie the AER determination to your future wages and the number of employees at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, ActewAGL and TransGrid.

Neither of these matters – wages and employee numbers – is determined by the AER. This is a decision by your management to connect the two.

The AER determination sets out the amount that can be recovered by the network businesses from their “regulated asset base” among other matters. The AER determination does not limit the amount of income these businesses can generate from other sources including area’s such as contestable work.

The ETU commissioned experts to compile our own submissions to the AER outlining our concerns around the draft determination – a copy of our submissions can be found on the ETU website.

The AER has this morning released their final determination delivering cuts to revenue as follows:

  • Ausgrid – 33% less than that sought by the company
  • Endeavour Energy – 28% less than that sought by the company
  • Essential Energy – 31% less than that sought by the company
  • TransGrid – 25% less than that sought by the company
  • ActewAGL – 32% less than that sought by the company

The AER claim this determination will result in lower power prices however there is NO GUARANTEE OF LOWER PRICES given that the NSW Government deregulated retail electricity pricing in July 2014 meaning that and reduction will rely on the good will of electricity retailers.


The ETU believes there are alternatives to mass sackings and we believe that the approach taken by management is an excuse to, among other things, get rid of thousands of workers ahead of the NSW Government’s planned privatisation.

Following today’s AER determination management is already circulating notices about potential job losses. This should serve as a stark reminder of the importance of securing improved job protections, including no forced redundancies, in all future agreements.

Under existing agreements your employer cannot force anyone to take a redundancy and although Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy agreements have expired they continue to apply until a new agreement is struck.

To say we are disappointed with this outcome is a massive understatement. We are committed to identifying alternatives to job cuts including re-entry to contestable work, elimination of the executive bonus scheme, possible opportunities around the National Broadband Network, voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes and retraining/redeployment for any displaced employee.

We also hold particular concerns for current and future apprentices and their ability to secure full time ongoing employment. The ETU will fight to deliver a positive outcome on this front where ever possible.

The ETU will work with all stakeholders to minimise impacts on our members as we move forward. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Steve Butler

ACTEWagl AER Decision

Paul Lister - Monday, April 27, 2015

Members will be aware that the AER final determination is due to handed down at the end of this month.

The ETU has had a number of meetings with your senior management & others in an attempt to reduce the potential impact on ETU members as previously described by ActewAGL CEO & management.

I met & made representations to the AER. I found that the AER representatives had little or no idea on what it takes to run an electricity network & were ignorant, of the difficulties that our members face in the provision of a safe & reliable electricity network.

The AER people  that I discussed the AER’s draft report were young economists who seemed to have an agenda that was totally unrealistic.

The ETU has questioned your management trying to find out how they have calculated the number of job loss’s they have quoted (150 from networks & 50 from corporate). The management have been unable to provide any formula etc, which leads us to believe that the number quoted is no more than a best guess.

The ETU have been investigating & promoting ideas for non regulated work that would assist in minimising the number of job losses. We are currently involved in ongoing discussions, which we are unable to divulge at this stage. I have discussed this with your CEO who is supportive of our ideas & efforts.

We have also sought from your management information on what classifications they feel the management proposed reductions would come from. To date they have been silent on this.

The opinion of the ETU is that reductions in the skilled industrial workforce will impact significantly on the organisations ability to provide safe & reliable services to the ACT community. As Actew is bound by legislative requirements & technical rules, we believe that a reduction of field workers would potentially backfire on the management & board of ActewAGL.

ETU commissioned AER Submission

The ETU commissioned a significant report that formed an ETU submission to the AER in response to the AER draft decision. You can read the ETU's submission here.

Our opinion is that the AER don’t give a s#*t about the community of Canberra or the hard working & loyal workers who deliver the best service at the lowest residential tariff.

We will seek further meetings with your management following the AER final determination, so that we can attempt to minimise any negative impacts on ETU members jobs.

The ETU put out a notice to members in response to the AER's draft decision that you can read here.

Apprentices & the future

We have also raised that it is vitally important for ActewAGL to support the ongoing employment of apprentices & to provide permanent roles for those apprentices upon their graduation. To not employ new apprentices & to not employ them on graduation is lunacy as this will clearly lead to a skill shortage in the future which, as everyone knows. Will backfire hugely. If there are to be job reductions we are seeking for the organisation to have a “mix & match” process where an older worker could take a package based on keeping a job for a graduating apprentice.

Clearly there is a long way to go & we are unable to do much more until the final AER determination is handed down.

The ETU will do everything we can to save as many members jobs as possible.

Yours in Unity
Neville Betts

Incident Update: High Voltage Oil Insulated Fuse Switch Units

Paul Lister - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Further to the ETU Notice issued on 11 February below is an update on the fatal incident that occurred in Western Australia on 3 February involving High Voltage Oil Insulated Fuse Switch Units.

Please read and understand the resolution carried by the NSW ETU State Council relating to this matter and subsequent bans relating to work on this equipment.

Click here for the latest WA EnergySafety media release and link to WA EnergySafety's preliminary findings and Work Orders.

All NSW ETU members should read the above information and be aware of the dangers this equipment may present. It is also important for all NSW ETU members to read and understand the resolution adopted by your state council as outlined below restricting work on oil insulated fuse switch units across NSW and the ACT.

Resolution on the Galleria Shopping centre incident on 3 February 2015 (Morley, WA) that resulted in two fatalities and seriously injured two others.

1. The ETU calls upon all employers and electrical safety regulators to conduct immediate safety audits in all workplaces where high voltage oil insulated fuse switch units are in operation; and

2. The NSW Branch of the ETU implements a live work ban on Long and Crawford / GEC / ALSTOM high voltage oil insulated fuse switch units (eg GF3, T4GF3 etc).

3. The NSW Branch of the ETU implement bans on any operating work (such as checking and/or changing of high voltage fuses in fuse switches of this type of equipment) without the high voltage feeder being de-energised into the fuse switch.

Further information is available below:

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates for members.

ETU Submission to AER 2014-19 draft determination

Paul Lister - Friday, February 13, 2015

The ETU has been closely watching developments relating to the Australian Energy Regulator's (AER) draft determination which was first published in November 2014.

A full list of the draft determinations for each of the five NSW and ACT distribution and transmission networks can be found below:

Networks NSW were quick to link the draft determination with the current EBA negotiations and employment numbers however this is purely a decision of management. 

The AER's determination DOES NOT dictate future wage outcomes or employment numbers but rather determines the maximum amount of income that can be derived from the regulated asset base and does not include opportunities outside of the regulated asset base such as re-entering the contestable works market or other business opportunities that may exist.

Networks NSW issued a media release on 27 November stating that Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy would slash 4,600 jobs and put the future of 750 apprentices at risk as a direct result of management linking the AER draft determination with jobs. A copy of the Networks NSW media release can be accessed here.

The ETU has concerns about managements approach and we remain committed to fight for ETU members to secure improved job security moving forward.

In response to the AER draft determination the ETU commissioned experts through the McKell Institute to compile submissions in relation to the draft determinations for each of the NSW and ACT distribution and transmission businesses. This was done in the interest of ETU members while recognising that our members are important stakeholders in this process.

A full copy of the ETU's submissions to the AER for each of these companies can be found below:

The ETU is watching this space closely with the AER due to hand down their final ruling on 30 April 2015.

AER Draft Determination

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dear Colleagues.

Today the Australian Energy Regulator released their draft determination for the next regulatory period covering the 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2019.

This draft determination will effectively reduce the amount of money the network businesses can recoup from customers, in some cases by up to 60% on the previous period. This will have a massive flow through effect resulting in the network operators reducing their operating and capital expenditure budgets and in turn staff numbers.

I am gob smacked at the extent of the AER’s cuts and personally believe that the regulator has got it seriously wrong. I am even more gob smacked that your management finally agrees with the union on something.

As you would be aware this is a draft determination, with the final decision due in April next year. Regardless I think our members are smart enough to understand that this draft determination would need to change dramatically for it not to have a serious impact on jobs, safety and reliability.

Your union will be making a submission to the AER in relations to today’s draft decision. We will be highlighting that we believe the regulator’s cuts are too hard and too deep. Our aim is to minimise the number of job losses and draw a line in the sand when it comes to safety.

There is a lot of information to work through as a result of today’s announcement but we will aim to keep you updated on any developments. The ETU believes in a publicly owned, safe, reliable and efficiently run electricity network, but we will not stand idle when someone get it as wrong as the regulator has done today.

We will face some challenging times ahead and that is why it is so important that we stand together to secure the best possible outcome not only from the regulator but also from our current round of agreement negotiations as they will form the basis for job security moving forward.

The ETU is organising delegate’s meetings at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, actewAGL and Transgrid.

Yours in unity,

Steve Butler

Endeavour Energy Safety Bulletin

Paul Lister - Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Endeavour Energy have issued Safety Bulletins relating to "Ladder Safety Checks" and "Asbestos in Henley Fuses".

All ETU members are advised to read Endeavour Energy's safety bulletins and take the necessary action.

If ETU members working in other transmission and distribution company's hold any concerns these should be raised with your employer through the normal safety reporting processes.

10-14 Safety Bulletin - Ladder Safety Checks

07-14 SEN Asbestos in Henley Fuses

Free Online Asbestos trainging Package

Paul Lister - Monday, June 16, 2014

With the support of WorkCover NSW, the ETU and other industry representatives, have developed a free asbestos e‐learning package for electrical workers providing important information on:

  • What is asbestos
  • The health risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos
  • Where asbestos containing materials may be found in the electrical industry
  • The safety controls that minimise the risk of asbestos exposure
  • Examples of real life electrical work situations involving asbestos

To complete the online training simply CLICK HERE



Member Information Nights

Paul Lister - Thursday, May 22, 2014

The ETU in partnership with EISSNEW Law and RT Health are hosting a number of member information nights across the state commencing in June.

The first four information evenings will be held in NEWCASTLE, the CENTRAL COAST, SYDNEY and WOLLONGONG with a further eighteen meetings scheduled across the state.

ALL members from all industry sectors are invited to come along and hear from your leadership team about the challenges we face including industrial matters, campaigns and the latest developments in Superannuation.

Full details for the meetings in Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney and Wollongong including times, dates and venues can be found HERE.

A full list of regional locations and dates can be found HERE. Once times and venues have been finalised for these locations we will notify members.

Food and drink will be served. If you wish to attend please RSVP to Joanne Crowder on 02 9267 4844 or joannec@etunsw.asn.au

National Licensing Aborted

Paul Lister - Friday, December 20, 2013

COAG have announced that they have officially aborted the National Licensing model covering electrical and other trade based licenses. 

Following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.
To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.

Click here to read the full COAG statement.

Click here to read the letter from NSW Fair trading to the ETU NSW.

ActewAGL Safety Alert

Paul Lister - Friday, September 06, 2013

Following the fatality of an Essential Energy worker on Monday 2 September, ActewAGL has issued the following Safety Alert:

ActewAGL Safety Alert Re-stringing, Re-tensioning Conductors

Members should read the above safety notice however the union reminds all members that we have issued a uniform Safety Ban for ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members across all electricity distributors.

ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.