Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Government response to Electricity Inquiry

Paul Lister - Friday, December 04, 2015

On Tuesday 1 December the NSW Government provided their response (as required under legislation) to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the leasing of NSW Electricity Network Assets.

Click here to read a summary of the Inquiry's recommendations and findings as published in June.

Click here to read the full version of the Inquiry's report as published in June.

Click here to read a copy of the Government response to the Inquiry as published on 1 December.

Essential Energy Update 2 December

Paul Lister - Wednesday, December 02, 2015

EBA inches forward

As you are aware last week saw further discussions between the ETU, other unions & Essential Energy management. The meeting was arranged for the parties to further discuss matters that will hopefully lead to a new draft enterprise agreement.

There was nothing finalised at this meeting & there has been an agreement to meet next week (week of the 7th of December) to continue the dialogue between the parties.

Essential Energy management are hopeful that a position can be reached between the parties that would hopefully lead to a meeting of ETU delegates prior to Christmas. The meeting of delegates would be to consider a proposal if a proposal is reached in the discussions next week. The date & location of a delegates meeting has not yet been determined due to there currently being no proposal that the union believes is worthy of presenting to delegates. We are hopeful that this may change next week.

Mix & Match Taxation 

We have been informed that the Australian Taxation Office have not yet provided an updated dispensation/agreement to Essential Energy that would allow for a member who mix & matches to have the same taxation relief as if it was the members role made redundant. There is an expectation that this will occur, we will keep you informed when news comes to hand.

Confidentiality

The requirement for the parties to retain confidentiality continues. You will recall that this is a requirement that was determined by Fair Work Australia Senior deputy president Hamberger.

Neville Betts
CEPU Assistant Secretary

Ausgrid Update 1 December - Mix and Match

Paul Lister - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Ausgrid Mix and Match program.

As previously advised Ausgrid have slowly but surely come around to the union’s way of thinking with respect to redundancies. The process is now one which places focus on the exhaustion of mix and match opportunities before redeployment. The defeat of Ausgrid’s attempt to introduce forced redundancies has no doubt assisted in this matter. The degree to which mix and match opportunities are created is still a matter for ongoing debate but Ausgrid this week advertised a range of positions to all employees identified as being in either reform affected groups or the redeployee pool.

An ideal outcome after the full exhaustion of the mix and match process would be no surplus employees left because everyone who wants to take a VR would be allowed to take one and there are subsequently enough roles freed up for everyone wanting to stay to fill those roles. Obviously that is what we are aiming for. The more likely scenario however is there will be some surplus positions at the end of the mix and match process. At that stage Ausgrid will move towards using merit selection criteria to determine which employees move in to the redeployee pool.

The degree to which mix and match positions are applied for and taken up by employees will critically determine the amount of jobs subsequently freed up for people that want to stay. The ETU therefore strongly advocates that reform affected members and redeployees avail themselves of all opportunities and apply for the jobs in accordance with Ausgrid’s merit appointment policy. In some cases these mix and match opportunities will be merit transfers in to like for like classifications across areas, in other situations they will be appointments across skill structures and locations.

It is important that members understand that contrary to what some managers might be saying – this initial process is not to determine whether you keep your job. It is a process to determine who is interested in other locations / roles and who will be appointed to those roles. We strongly urge all members who have an interest in these jobs to fully participate and utilize the assistance of Ausgrid’s HR team if you have any questions or issues.

In Unity,

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

JUSTIN PAGE
0414 877 301 / justinp@etunsw.asn.au

Ausgrid Update 26 Nov - Interest Based Bargaining

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 26, 2015

JOINT UNION UPDATE.

On the 23rd and 24th of November the combined unions participated in a two day interest based bargaining negotiation at the Fair Work Commission presided over by Senior Deputy President Hamberger. The unions were represented by officials and workplace delegates from the negotiating committee. Ausgrid were represented by the CEO, legals and HR.

Under guidance from SDP Hamberger, the discussions were reasonably productive and led to some progress. Under strict instructions from SDP Hamberger the discussions are to remain confidential at this stage but in the event of a draft agreement ALL UNION MEMBERS WILL GET A SAY & VOTE.

It is becoming increasingly clear that any negotiated outcome will involve concessions on both sides, the details of which will be clearly communicated to members before you are provided with the opportunity to vote on any proposal.

We are progressing negotiations to ensure that union member’s interests are protected to the greatest extent possible, this does not mean that we will secure every single log item but we are negotiating as hard as possible to deliver as many protections as possible.

Again all members will have the opportunity to vote on any proposal but it is likely that any proposal will involve some concession from both sides.

Ausgrid have undertaken to do some analysis on some key union propositions that would fundamentally underpin any agreement and come back to us. In the meantime we ask members to be patient while these discussions continue confidentially as directed by SDP Hamberger.

Once these interest based bargaining negotiations come to a conclusion we will fully inform all members, provide advice and seek direction from you. Remember NO AGREEMENT CAN BE CERTIFIED WITHOUT FIRST GOING TO A VOTE OF MEMBERS.

The combined unions are continuing to advocate for members with the aim of securing an in principle agreement, a process which includes your workplace delegates who sit on your negotiating committee.

Ausgrid Notifies Consultation Intentions Over Lease Transaction

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ausgrid wrote to the ETU on Tuesday following the commencement of the NSW Government electricity lease transaction.

Click here to read the letter from Ausgrid.

Based on past transactions the ETU expects the government to move quickly through the bidding process. From commencement to conclusion the TransGrid lease took approximately 6-8 months. We will provide members with additional information as it comes to hand.

ETU Supports White Bay Power Station Rejuvenation

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 26, 2015

The ETU has today written to the Minister for planning supporting the rejuvenation of the White Bay Power Station site in Sydney's inner west.

Construction of White Bay commenced in 1912 - ten years after the formation of the Electrical Trades Union - after if became apparent that electricity would play a major role in the development of NSW and Australia.

The unions support for this project is condition on the retention of the heritage values of the site and important public access. The ETU also believes that this rejuvenation present the perfect opportunity to dedicate this space to the NSW electricity industry and the dedicated men and women who have worked in the industry over the past century.

The ETU would like to see a distinct theme adopted for the site which helps to tell the story of the importance of electricity, the power industry and those that work in it.

Essential Energy Update 23 November

Paul Lister - Monday, November 23, 2015

You will recall that I had informed you that the ETU had participated in week long discussions/negotiations with Essential Energy management. The discussions were chaired by Senior Deputy President Hamberger. At the end of those discussions SDP Hamberger put out a statement saying that "discussions had been fruitful with all parties coming to a good understanding of each others' interests".

He went on to say that "no final agreement has yet been reached. However I am hopeful that, with some further discussions, the parties will be able to reach an in-principle agreement that can be put to the employees before Christmas."

The intention of these discussions was for all parties to be able to express their positions & for there to be a clear understanding of all issues raised.

Last week saw another full day discussion between the unions & Essential Energy. While there was some progress no agreement has been reached as yet.

The ETU & other unions will again this week meet with Essential Energy to try to forge further progress towards an enterprise agreement. Steve Butler will be in attendance.

The confidentiality requirements set by SDP Hamberger are still in place so the union is unable to provide explicit details until later in the process. The objectives are obviously to achieve an enterprise agreement. Clearly redundancy is one of, if not, the big ticket item driven by the massive reductions determined by the AER.

The ETU supported by the other unions continue our objective of getting an improved redundancy package that would provide our members with greater dignity than the management draft MEE policy.  We will keep you all informed of details when able to do so.

Of course any outcome from these EBA discussions will be subject to a majority vote by EE employees covered by the agreement. A vote would only occur following endorsement from a delegates meeting.

Neville Betts - CEPU Assistant Secretary

ETU wins Endeavour Energy Electrical License Allowance appeal

Paul Lister - Friday, October 30, 2015

Yesterday the full bench of the Fair Work Commission awarded a massive win to the ETU when they handed down their decision on the unions appeal over Endeavour Energy’s attempt to remove your Electrical License Allowance.

ETU members from across Endeavour Energy should be proud of this win as it will result in hundreds of ETU members retaining their Electrical License Allowance when Endeavour Energy were fighting so hard to take this allowance away form members.

Had the ETU not appealed this decision Endeavour Energy would have taken thousands of dollars every year away from hard working workers and their families. This win shows what can be achieved when we have strong arguments provided by active members and delegates.

There are further processes to work through and once we have further information from our legal team on this matter we will provide you with further information.

ETU Organiser Brad Currey was supported by a team of committed and active ETU delegates and members from across the company, who together with a highly capable legal team have delivered a win that will mean ETU members keep their hard earned allowance and will not be financially worse off.

In the meantime Endeavour Energy management have reverted to the only thing they know – attacking you, your family and your working conditions – and they have advised the union that they intend to go to a vote on a non-union agreement which is designed to strip you of vital conditions and reduce your overall take home pay.

The ETU is continuing to fight for members, we will provide further information as it becomes available.

Endeavour Energy Update 29 October

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 29, 2015

There is a lot of issues running at the moment and I now have some material information to share with you. Please see below updates on the EBA, Surplus Empoyees & Payroll Deductions.

EBA

After approximately 32 EBA Negotiating meetings and getting absolutely nowhere with the Company, the ETU made application to the Fair Work Commission yesterday in relation to igniting a “Bargaining Dispute” in the hope that we can have some reasonable, sensible and logical discussions with Fair Work intervening and overseeing the negotiations.  The outcome of this process is not binding and any proposal will be subject to a vote of the members.

Surplus Employees

As you are aware, today and over the next week, Endeavour Energy will be applying a “Merits Based Selection Tool” to identify employees in positions which Endeavour now deem to be surplus due to the AER Determination.  Please remember if you are one that Endeavour has, or is, identified as surplus and you do not agree with the assessment score provided to you, you have the right to put this into appeal.

There are 2 disputes listed with Fair Work applicable to this issue which will be heard on the 13th Nov 2015. These disputes are;

  1. Recognition of Service for the purpose of redundancy calculations, and
  2. Salary Maintenance – the “Status Quo” is being recognised by Endeavour for this dispute until the Commission hearing identified above.  That is, if you are one of the unfortunate employees identified as being in a Surplus Position and do not seek to take a Voluntary Redundancy and are transferred to the Mobility Section, then you will still receive your “Ordinary Rate of Pay” (base hourly rate + all purpose allowances) as opposed to Endeavour’s view being just your Base Hourly Rate

Payroll Deductions

Last week the ETU was at Fair Work for a hearing over Endeavour ceasing payroll deductions for your Union Fees as of 1st October 2015, for members who have not re-authorised Endeavour to deduct their union fees at the current rate.

It was identified that this affected around 130 members who are outstanding and still have not re-authorised the current value of their Union Fees to be deducted by payroll.

During the Fair Work conference it was identified that the Fair Work Act was amended in January 2013 which broadly stated that “if there was a variation to the amount being deducted then the Employee must re-authorise the new amount with their Employer”.

After lots of discussion and arguments before His Honour SDP Hamberger it was resolved with SDP informing Endeavour that they had to keep paying the Payroll Deduction, BUT, at the value prior to the January 2013 amendment to the Fair Work Act (this being the 2012 Union Fee rate).  Endeavour is in the process of reinstating the Payroll Deductions for Union Fees for the 130 members, as stated above, but at the 2012 Union Fee Rate.  This will mean these members are becoming Un-financial Members.

If you are one of these 130 members, you need to either re-authorise the deduction of the current Union Fee amount or switch over to Direct Debit. Please contact your local Delegate, myself or our ETU Sydney Office on 9267 4844 for how this can be done.  It’s quite easy…

ALSO, out of this issue, it has come to my attention in the last couple of days, that Endeavour Energy ceased making Payroll Deductions to ALL deductions as of the 1st October 2015 which could have affected things like your Private Health Insurance payments etc..  I urge everyone to contact any and all of the entities you were getting payments paid into through Payroll Deductions as you might end up experiencing issues with these other entities.

If you require any further information or clarification on any issues happening at the moment, please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0431 838 852.

In Unity - Brad Currey, Organiser.

“Go Home” dispute to be heard in December

Paul Lister - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Essential Energy employees who were told to no longer come to work earlier this month have received a two month reprieve, with the Fair Work Commission confirming that interim orders requiring the company to overturn that decision will continue until late December.

The FWC yesterday set down a hearing date of December 18 to finalise the case, with Commissioner Leigh Johns indicating that the final decision on whether Essential Energy can direct employees not to attend work will be delivered before Christmas.

The matter will be arbitrated in the week before Christmas, providing a binding decision that will decide whether Essential Energy can direct these employees not to attend work.

The ETU contends there remained ongoing concerns about Essential Energy segregating and ostracising employees, including by banning some staff from attending workplace meetings and telling them they are no longer to sit near colleagues.

The ETU has stated to the press that “The ETU has serious concerns about the welfare of Essential Energy’s workforce as a result of the significant and sustained attack being carried out by management, with the support of the NSW Government,”

“These actions seem to be part of a concerted effort to try to demoralise, bully and intimidate these workers into simply quitting their jobs. 

EE management bungle Merit based Selection information

Today numbers of members were informed by EE that they had been identified through a merit selection process as excess to EE’s requirements. EE had agreed with a proposal from the ETU to ditch their unfair spill & fill proposal along with their psychometric testing proposal.

The ETU argued that members should not have to compete for a job where EE believe that they need to reduce the workforce. As an example if a depot has 10 linesmen & EE determine that there needs to be a reduction of 1 linesman’s position EE were proposing that all 10 linesmen would have to compete for the 9 jobs.

This ends up pitting member against member. The ETU had led negotiations in Endeavour energy that had an outcome that is considerably fairer for members. Members skills were to be identified & given a rating along with “management values” which would deliver a score.

Then the management would be responsible for the selection of the one person to be excess. The results of the assessment are to be provided to the member identified so that they can check if the assessment identified the skills held by the employee. The scoring of ach of the skills was to be done consistently.

The process was to provide anyone who is then identified as excess with appeal rights if the employee identifies information is incorrect. The outcome of the appeal would then be provided to the employee which would provide a reassessment of the rating if the appeal identified any discrepancies in the original assessment.

A member would also have access to the disputes & grievance procedure that is contained within the agreement.

This is clearly a better & fairer process than the managements spill & fill & DR Spock psychometric testing!

Click here to read the Letter to Essential Energy re Merit Based Selection Dispute.

That is if the management clowns could actually get things right!

Today they presented members with incomplete Merit based selection assessments. They chose to not include the section E component “Company values” section. This is a grade “A” bungle. I have written to them & notified a dispute and I have provided delegates with copies of the correspondence notifying the dispute.

  • The resolution sought by the ETU in this dispute is as follows, the ETU seeks the following as resolution to the dispute.
  • That Essential Energy immediately withdraw the incomplete documentation provided to employees
  • That Essential Energy inform all members who received this information that the information provided was incomplete.
  • That Essential energy informs members that a complete assessment document inclusive of scoring & all sections will be provided to members.
  • That Essential Energy inform members that the 5 full working days to lodge an appeal will commence the day following the members receiving the correct & complete information. 

Concern for members’ welfare

I would ask all of you to keep an eye out for your workmates during this highly stressful time. The ETU is very concerned & have had reason to seek urgent assistance for some members who have struggled under the pressure created by your uncaring management. We have made some arrangements with support organisations including beyond blue to assist us with ensuring our members have support if they are in need. So if you have a workmate that you are concerned about, contact your delegate, organiser or directly to myself & we will do what we can to help our members in need.

Next week will see Fair Work Commission Senior Deputy President Hamberger chair week long discussions between the ETU & other Unions with EE management.

SDP Hamberger has set aside a full week to try & assist the parties conciliate on all issues raised in negotiations. The process is called “interest based bargaining” where the unions & management put their big ticket items on the table & the SDP will attempt to encourage compromise on all parties, with hopefully an outcome that we can all accept.

This will be challenging, but I am hopeful that this could lead to some light at the end of a very long & dark tunnel.

I will keep you informed of further developments.

I have heard whispers that to fill the EE new CEO position that the candidates will have to go through a selection process (interview) hopefully one I have in mind misses out & we can get someone at the helm who actually cares for the people. If the candidate I am thinking of miss’s out there is a job opening for the little grub sitting quietly on a bench in McDonalds.

Neville Betts - CEPU Assistant Secretary