Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Ausgrid, Endeavour, Essential and TransGrid spend almost $5 million of taxpayers money attacking workers

Paul Lister - Monday, August 03, 2015
Disclosures by NSW Government-owned electricity network companies have revealed almost five million dollars was spent in just four years to hire external law firms and private investigators to attack their workforces over disciplinary and industrial matters.

Documents released under the Government Information (Public Access) Act revealed Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy and TransGrid spent $4,604,703 on external legal services between 2010 and 2014.

An additional $223,832 was spent on private investigators in 2014, with Essential Energy revealing that more than 90 per cent of their spending on these services involved workers being investigated for “alleged non-compliances” with the company’s code of conduct.

The GIPA documents showed Ausgrid had spent $1,276,013 on industrial matters, $181,673 on disciplinary matters, and $40,569.20 on private investigators. Essential Energy paid $1,457,824 for industrial matters, $21,398 for disciplinary, and $67,847 for private investigators. And Endeavour Energy reported $1,420,000 for industrial matters, $150,000 for disciplinary matters, and $48,149 for private investigators.

The ETU said it was outrageous that millions of dollars in public money, that came directly from consumers, had been spent by the management teams at the four public companies to attack their own workforces.

Rally against ChAFTA

Paul Lister - Friday, July 17, 2015

The ETU is supporting national rally's in all capital cities against Tony Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement that will see aussie workers worse off.

The China FTA allows Chinese companies investing more than A$150 million to import temporary workers without testing if local workers are available, and allows Chinese companies to sue our government for damages if changes to our laws have a negative impact on them.

A Parliamentary Committee is taking evidence about the China FTA over the next month. The ETU want to make your voice heard, by bringing our flags, banners and members together to send a message to the Australian Parliament that we do not support Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Rally outside the Sydney Committee hearing, Friday 31 July, 12 noon, meet outside NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney and bring a friend.

Ausgrid EBA & MEE Update

Paul Lister - Friday, July 17, 2015

Recommencement of the EBA bargaining process – 15 July, 2015

The ETU/CEPU took part in enterprise agreement negotiations yesterday at the Silverwater training centre after a long delay by Ausgrid in the aftermath of the AER determinations.

Ausgrid tabled their offer in the form of a draft agreement which did not track or highlight the changes from the current agreement and contained the exact opposite of what members and their negotiating delegates have instructed us to negotiate for namely: job security, no trade-offs and a reasonable increase in wages.

The following summarises Ausgrid’s offer:

  • The replacement of the current Voluntary Redundancy and Redeployment and Salary Maintenance policies with Ausgrid’s Managing Excess Employees (MEE) policy which includes forced redundancy provision and a massively reduced pay out.
  • A 3 year Agreement with a defined “term” running from Dec 2014 – to Dec 2017.
  • A wage freeze for the first 2 years (0% for first 2 years) and a 2.5% increase in year 3.
  • The Long Service Leave accrual rate to dramatically reduce.
  • The maximum Ausgrid Superannuation contribution capped at 15% in all circumstances.
  • Sick leave credit adjusted down to maximum of 15 days per annum.
  • Sick Leave accruals to be in days instead of hours.
  • No percentage increases in allowances for the term of the agreement – year 3 of the agreement the 2.5% wage increase does not apply to allowances.
  • Scrapping the all-purpose application of allowances which are currently paid as all-purpose. In other words not wrapped in to hourly rate – but a flat fixed allowance.
  • Electricians allowance to be paid in accordance with the legislation – that is only if deemed to be used and required for the majority of one’s work by management discretion.

Management indicated that they intend for weekly bargaining meetings to commence from now on and it was obvious from the meeting that Ausgrid’s aim is to expedite the bargaining process in order to present an unacceptable agreement to workers, that is likely to be rejected in a vote.

The union believes that Ausgrid would then move to seek the assistance of the Fair Work Commission to bring the negotiations to a head.

The ETU has specifically requested paid delegates meetings to communicate the proposal which to date has been rejected twice by Ausgrid. The ETU has also written to the Deputy CEO Trevor Armstrong asking a series of questions concerning process, bargaining in good faith and the impact of Ausgrid’s proposed job reductions throughout the organisation.

Dispute re consultation on new MEE policy.

Ausgrid had placed the ETU in dispute at the Fair Work Commission for “failing to consult” on the new Managing Excess Employees (MEE) policy on their terms. That dispute was conciliated by Senior Deputy President Hamberger today.

In a cynical attempt to tick the boxes and force the policy through Ausgrid attempted to argue that consultation should and could occur without a delegates meeting and outside a structured process again without the presence of delegates.

The ETU and other unions successfully argued that prior to any such discussions taking place, a full delegates meeting was required and subject to the direction of that meeting, discussions could only take place either within the EBA bargaining process and/or within the AER Consultative Committee (ACC) framework which has previously been established and agreed to by the unions and Ausgrid to deal with the impacts of the AER.

After some resistance from Ausgrid and with the assistance of SDP Hamberger a full delegates meeting was eventually agreed to by Ausgrid.

In the meantime members should be under no illusion regarding Ausgrid’s tactics and determination to scare as many people out the door as possible before trying to forcing a crappy Agreement and equally crappy forced redundancy provision through the courts and onto its staff.

It is important that members do not fall for this scare tactic by second guessing what will be a hard fought and drawn out process. As always, the ETU will do everything in its power to defend this savage and deliberate attack by management on your hard fought job security, conditions and pay.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact either of us.

  In Unity,
     
  MARK BUTTIGIEG                JUSTIN PAGE
  0417 208 447                         0414 877 301
  markb@etunsw.asn.au         justinp@etunsw.asn.au

Stop the China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

Paul Lister - Thursday, July 16, 2015

You may have heard that just a few weeks ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed off on the China Free Trade Agreement that will allow Chinese based companies to import their own labour.

Abbott's free trade agreement also removes the requirement for mandatory skills assessment for ten occupations including: Electrician (General), Electrician (Special Class), Automotive Electrician. ALL OTHER occupations will be reviewed within two years with the aim of reducing or eliminating the need for skills assessments.

The ETU is fighting to STOP THE CHINA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT by raising this as a public issue before two parliamentary committee's consider the issues. In order to come into effect these parliamentary committees must sign off on it.

TAKE ACTION TODAY - visit the Australian Unions website and email your MP

ENDEAVOUR ENERGY redundancy & EBA update

Paul Lister - Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dear Colleagues

By now you would be very much aware of exactly what the company you work for thinks of you and your workmates, there have been varied response’s from, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy in relation to changes the company’s want to make to redundancy policies.

At Endeavour Energy the position is that enterprise agreement negotiations are underway where the matter of a replacement redundancy policy is being discussed.

Endeavour Energy have provided a DRAFT redundancy policy to the negotiating representatives (the same policy as Ausgrid and Essential) that includes a FORCED REDUNDANCY PROVISION.

This does not mean that Endeavour Energy will not try to initiate a forced redundancy policy on employees outside of agreement negotiations, it is possible that management will table an unpalatable DRAFT enterprise agreement and put that agreement to the vote at Endeavour Energy with the likely result being that the agreement would be rejected, they would then proceed to Fair Work Australia to seek an arbitration over the redundancy provisions of the agreement or ask for the agreement to be reviewed.

The ETU is extremely concerned about jobs in all of the distribution companies and look to Transgrid who advise that they are not seeking any forced redundancies and that they hope to increase their market share and grow their business, an approach the ETU supports.

Members should be aware that the ETU has constantly requested that Endeavour Energy explore every possible avenue including growth and expansion in order to protect as many jobs as possible, however this approach has been rejected by both Vince Graham and the Premier Mike Baird.

It is clear, in the ETU’s opinion, that Vince Graham & his attack team have little to no respect of the hard working men and women at the organisation & has little intention to treat employees with any dignity.

The present position of the companies is not agreed by the ETU and the union has requested meetings with members to go through the unions concerns on how the companies are proceeding.

I can assure you that the ETU will not be taking a backward step in relation to these hostile proposals and we will do everything in our power to protect our member’s interests.

I am also acutely aware of the impact that matters such as this can have on member’s anxiety levels and your personal life, particular on top of the hostile approach taken by management over recent years. I ask all members to look out for each other during this time and if you see someone that may need support please extend a helping hand.

Any questions can be directed to your relevant organiser.

In Unity - Steve Butler, Secretary

ESSENTIAL ENERGY redundancy & EBA update

Paul Lister - Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dear Colleague

By now you would be very much aware of exactly what the company you work for thinks of you and your workmates, there have been varied response’s from, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy in relation to changes the company’s want to make to redundancy policies.

Essential Energy have put the Unions in dispute for allegedly not consulting over the replacement redundancy policy that Essential Energy has produced (the same policy as Endeavour and Ausgrid) that includes a FORCED REDUNDANCY PROVISIONS.

The ETU have continued to participate in consultation in accordance with the consultative provisions of the current EBA. The ETU along with the other unions recognise that there needs to be an AGREED consultation plan created. What Essential Energy management have done is to predetermine what is in the consultation plan and then dictate that the consultation plan must be about delivering management’s proposed Managing Excess Employee (MEE) policy.

The ETU & other unions believe that the actions of management are not in accordance with the consultation provisions of the EBA (clause 1.12.1). The ETU has not declined to consult and have requested that the consultative process for a replacement redundancy policy take place in line with the provisions of the enterprise agreement.

The ETU have made clear that the redundancy policy is linked to the Enterprise Agreement and that is where the discussion should take place. In fact, all unions have raised the redundancy provisions as matters on the union’s log of claims & as such they are already subject to EBA negotiations.

Essential Energy is arguing that they can change the redundancy policy without agreement and that the unions have failed to consult, we believe this to be incorrect.

Earlier today we received notification that Essential Energy has now listed a dispute with the Fair Work Commission that is scheduled to be heard on Thursday 16 July in the Fair Work Commission.

This does not mean that Essential Energy will not try to initiate a forced redundancy policy on employees outside of agreement negotiations, it is possible that management will table an unpalatable DRAFT enterprise agreement and put that agreement to the vote at Essential Energy with the likely result being that the agreement would be rejected, they would then attempt to have Fair Work arbitrate in relation to redundancy provisions or to have the entire enterprise agreement reviewed.
 
The ETU is extremely concerned about jobs in all of the distribution companies and look to Transgrid who advise that they are not seeking any forced redundancies and that they hope to increase their market share and grow their business, an approach the ETU supports.

Members should be aware that the ETU has constantly requested that Essential Energy explore every possible avenue including growth and expansion in order to protect as many regional jobs as possible, however this approach has been rejected by both Vince Graham and the Premier Mike Baird.

It is clear, in the ETU’s opinion, that Vince Graham & his attack team have little to no respect of the hard working men and women at the organisations & has little intention to treat employees with any dignity.

The present position of the companies is not agreed by the ETU and the union has requested meetings with members to go through the unions concerns on how the companies are proceeding.

I can assure you that the ETU will not be taking a backward step in relation to these hostile proposals and will do everything in our power to protect our member’s interests. 

I am also acutely aware of the impact that matters such as this can have on members anxiety levels and your personal life, particular on top of the hostile approach management have taken over recent years. I ask all members to look out for each other during this time and if you see someone that may need support please extend a helping hand.

In the meantime any questions can be directed to your relevant organiser.

In Unity - Steve Butler, Secretary

AUSGRID redundancy & EBA update

Paul Lister - Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dear Colleague

By now you would be very much aware of exactly what the company you work for thinks of you and your workmates, there have been varied response’s from, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy in relation to changes the company’s want to make to redundancy policies.

At Ausgrid the unions have been put in dispute for allegedly not consulting over the replacement redundancy policy that Ausgrid have produced (the same policy as Endeavour and Essential) that includes a FORCED REDUNDANCY PROVISION.

The ETU has not declined to consult and have requested that the consultation process include all ETU delegates because of the massive implications of the proposed policy, the ETU have consistently argued that the discussion about redundancy is linked to the Enterprise Agreement and that is where the discussion should take place.

Ausgrid have now listed an urgent dispute with the Fair Work Commission basically over two points; the first point that Ausgrid are arguing is that the ETU has not met the requirements to consult, the ETU has said it will consult in line with Enterprise Agreement provisions that include ETU delegates in the consultative process. That dispute is scheduled to be heard on Thursday 16 July in the Fair Work Commission.

The second line of argument that management are running is that the Ausgrid agreement only provided linkage to the presently agreed redundancy policy till the expiry date of the agreement which was 18th December 2014. The ETU position is that the status quo remains until the agreement is cancelled or there is an agreed change. We are also concerned that Ausgrid are paying no heed to the employment guarantees as promised by the NSW State Government.

This does not mean that Ausgrid will not try to initiate a forced redundancy policy on employees outside of agreement negotiations, it is likely that they will continue to argue that they only need to consult on their proposed new Managing Excess Employee (MEE) policy outside the EBA bargaining process and then implement and try and push ahead with their FORCED REDUNDANCY POLICY.

It is also clear that Ausgrid is likely to table an unpalatable enterprise agreement and put that agreement to a vote at Ausgrid with the likely result being that the agreement would be rejected, they would then proceed to Fair Work Australia to ask for arbitration in relation to redundancy provisions or to have the enterprise agreement reviewed.

On the contrary Transgrid are not seeking any forced redundancies and are instead working to increase their market share and grow their business, an approach the ETU supports.

Members should be aware that the ETU has constantly requested that Ausgrid explore every possible avenue including growth and expansion in order to protect as many jobs as possible, however this approach has been rejected by both Vince Graham and the Premier Mike Baird.  

I can assure you that the ETU will not be taking a backward step in relation to these hostile proposals and will do everything in our power to protect our member’s interests. 

I am also acutely aware of the impact that matters such as this can have on members anxiety levels and your personal life, particular on top of the hostile approach taken by management over recent years. I ask all members to look out for each other during this time and if you see someone that may need support please extend a helping hand.

Any questions can be directed to your relevant organiser.

In Unity - Steve Butler, Secretary

ETU rejects redundancy changes shows they must be part of EBA negotiations

Paul Lister - Thursday, July 02, 2015

ETU Secretary Steve Butler today wrote to Networks NSW CEO Vince Graham rejecting the distribution power companies attempt to push ahead with forced redundancy. In his correspondence Steve highlights that redundancy is clearly an EBA negotiating matter and formed part of the unions original EBA log of claim.

You can read the correspondence here. 

Secretary seeks answers from Vince Graham

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On 22 June ETU Secretary, Steve Butler wrote to Vince Graham in relation to a range of issues at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy - these included the EBA negotiations, proposed changes to policy by management and the privatisation process.

Copies of this correspondence can be found below:

Ausgrid

Ausgid - Letter to Vince Graham 22 June

Ausgrid - Vince Grahams response

Endeavour Energy

Endeavour Energy - Letter to Vince Graham 22 June

Endeavour Energy - Vince Grahams response

Essential Energy

Essential Energy - Letter to Vince Graham 22 June

Essential Energy - Vince Grahams response

Look out for yourself and your work mates

Paul Lister - Friday, June 19, 2015

Are you concerned about a workmate or are you struggling yourself with changes at work? There are many services available that can provide assistance.

Lifeline: www.lifeline.org.au
Sane Australia: www.sane.org
Black Dog Institute: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au