Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

The ETU has secured more than $2,000 in underpayments for a Sydney based Electrical Apprentice after it was discovered his employer was paying him less than the award rate.

The first year apprentice was employed by Halkat Electrical Service over a period of 8 months where the apprentice was paid at the rate of $9.85 an hour when the award rate for a first year electrical apprentice is $11.07.

Over the 8 month period the electrical apprentice was under paid $1,971 in wages and additional $145 in lost superannuation.

Recently the ETU has drawn a line in the sand in the construction and contracting sectors with a zero tolerance approach to dodgy bosses when it comes to member’s rights, conditions and workplace safety.

ETU organiser Fred Barbin who handled the matter said that it is possible other electrical apprentices could be in the same boat.

“My message to electrical apprentices is join your union, know your rights and double check things because bosses will rip you off at the first possible opportunity.” said Fred.

“This apprentice member eventually got what he was owed but it was only because the ETU got involved and force his employer to pay through legal intervention.”

“In the end the ETU took decisive action by notifying principle contractors on sites where Halkat Electrical Services was engaged forcing the boss to pay the apprentice what he was owed.

“Without the help of the union it is likely that this electrical apprentice would never have got his money which is an example of why it is so important for all workers to join their union.” said Fred.

If you are an electrical apprentice, electrician or electrical worker and you suspect you are not being paid correctly you should contact the ETU on 02 9267 4844 and we have one of our organisers assist you.

Following a stoush with management in mid-May after industrial action, ETU members and the union thought we had secured an in-principle agreement however on closer inspection of managements proposed agreement it became clear that management had attempted to sneak in significant changes that would have seen ETU members out of pocket if their tools were stolen while also leaving members that work “short shifts” worse off.

As a result, ETU members at Chubb Fire and Security attended a mass meeting on the morning of Friday 3 June where negotiations were discussed at length. At this meeting members decided that any previous in-principle deal was off as a result of deceitful management tactics. It was unanimously resolved that members would re-double their efforts to secure an outcome that delivers important items such as protection around the use of labour hire, sub-contractors, domestic violence clause and delegates rights clause.

The negotiating committee is scheduled to meet with management this Friday 1 July after which a further update will be provided for members.

In Unity
Steve Bankes – ETU Organiser

The current dispute with Otis over the enterprise agreement is a lot more in depth than what the company is making out. As there are quite a large number of issues to resolve we have agreed to move the stoppage back to Wednesday in order to try and reach agreement without the need for industrial action.

They have deliberately put all of the focus on the service spread of hours to hide from you that they are still trying to steal more of your conditions.

The following are the points that the Union believe are still not agreed:-

  • SITE PRODUCTIVITY ALLOWANCE: The company want to take the allowance off you when you are undertaking off-site work that is associated with the project. This has never been the case before.
  • “ILLEGITIMATE” ALLOWANCES: Leading Hand allowance is probably the main target here. Over the years the company has offered L/H allowance to employees as an enticement to stay with Otis. This has been due to the FACT that other lift companies pay a higher hourly rate and the only way to compete with that is offer an allowance. This is not an EBA issue and should be dealt with by management internally.
  • TRAINING OUTSIDE OF NORMAL HOURS: We are still unsure on this item. You currently have provisions in the agreement that allow for training outside of normal time at single time. There are strict parameters around this but we still aren’t sure how they want to expand them.
  • INCOME PROTECTION: There has been no agreement reached on Income Protection/Top Up insurance. The company has been quick to use the Victorian agreement when pushing compulsory spread of hour but they refuse to talk about the fact that the Vic’s have Top Up.
  • CASHING OUT RDO’S: This is just another way of pushing you back to a 38hr week. If the company has too much work and need you to work through your RDO’s then they should be offering to pay them out at overtime rates.
  • CASHING OUT ANNUAL LEAVE: We have been rejecting this for ever and a day. Why they would even keep bringing it up is beyond me.
  • TAKING OF ANNUAL LEAVE: There is no way in the world we would ever accept that the company can direct you to take annual leave when they haven’t planned enough work. This would lead to members being forced to take a week off in the middle of winter and then having none left when they need it.
  • FARES AND TRAVEL: We have accepted in the past that Fares would be paid at a lower amount on RDO’s now they want to take it away altogether!
  • REPAIRS ALLOWANCE: Richard Langdon has made it clear that as he has put a water container with a hose running off it in each repairs truck Otis can now say they have met the requirements of amenities. What a joke. These blokes continually get filthy dirty on sites with no lunch rooms or toilets. He even suggested that they should go to university in order to find a job that has better conditions.
  • HOURS OF WORK FLEXIBILITY: Otis has been pushing this hard for many years. They currently have the ability to implement late starts but have refused to use the method agreed to previously. Instead they just run the mantra that the Victorians and Queenslanders agreed to it so we should. In both of those States there are provisions for the introduction of various shifts, with appropriate allowances, to cover calls. There has been no talk of that here. All the company has put on the table so far is “no mutual agreement” for service. Given that it was in their log of claims that they want it for all employees there is no doubt they will continue to push it for construction/mods in future agreements.
  • WAGES: The company is currently offering 3% but only if a number of changes are made to the agreement.

In Unity - Steve Bankes.

ETU & AMWU members working at Kone Elevators & Doors, Warners Bay have stepped up their dispute by taking a second round of industrial action in pursuit of an Enterprise Agreement. Last Friday members walked off the job for a second 4-hour stoppage that also included returning to the depot for lunch and not responding to weekend callouts.

Kone workers across the country are employed under enterprise agreements with the exception of Newcastle where workers are currently employed on substandard individual contracts.

After providing the company with a comprehensive draft agreement covering the employee’s log of claims three weeks ago Kone management continued with their stalling tactics. When a response was finally forthcoming from the company’s directors it fell well short of meeting expectations forcing Kone’s workers to initiate another round of industrial action.

ETU & AMWU members are determined to secure a classification structure, job descriptions, fair hourly rates and relevant allowances. To date Kone’s response has been a blunt “NO” to all employee claims.

Kone failed to respond with any counter offer but now claim they need an additional two weeks to develop a range of watered down provisions – all of which are likely to be unacceptable to their highly skilled and dedicated workforce.

“The claims developed and put forward by our members is not extraordinary or outrageous” said ETU Organiser Justin Page.

“All these workers want is to be covered by an Enterprise Agreement with similar conditions that other Kone employees already receive and enjoy.”

“Everywhere else across the country where Kone employ people they do so under an enterprise agreement, Newcastle is the exception and these workers are sick of being treated like second class employees.” said Justin.

AMWU Organiser Fergal Eiffe said that this dispute is not just about securing a fair agreement it’s about delivering equality to a dedicated and highly skilled workforce.

“These employees are highly skilled trades people that have worked tirelessly with unwavering commitment but they continue to be treated like second class employees by a management team that just don’t seem to get it.”

“Managements arrogance and actions have only strengthened these members resolve to secure an enterprise agreement that delivers similar pay and conditions to all other Kone workers across the country.” Fergal said.

Last week ETU members from across the Sydney Construction sector attended a mass meeting where a tough new approach to the construction and contracting sectors was unanimously supported by members.

ETU members said that the time had come to take a hardline approach with bosses in the construction sector to ensure ETU members retain hard fought conditions and secured good outcomes moving forward.

In a move that will see a million dollar campaign rolled out across the construction and contracting sectors, the ETU NSW has developed a five point campaign plan to tackle rouge bosses and secure good outcomes for members across the construction and contracting sectors. The five point plan includes:

  1. MAKE EMPLOYERS ACCOUNTABLE - The electrical contracting companies have had it too good for too long, it's time to make them more accountable.
  2. MORE RESOURCES - the ETU NSW has increased the number of organisers, we now have five full time organisers in the construction sector to fight for ETU members.
  3. ZERO TOLERANCE TO SAFETY BREACHES - Bosses who choose to skimp on safety will be our target as we clamp down on safety to protect workers.
  4. A TOUGHER APPROACH ACROSS CONSTRUCTION & CONTRACTING - its a tough industry so the ETU & our members are taking a tough new approach.
  5. STRONGER EBA's THAT PROTECT & IMPROVE CONDITIONS - You spoke and the ETU has listened. The ETU will only sign off on agreements that protect the rights of apprentices, our trade and our license.

This plan marks the beginning of the ETU's campaign and new approach but we can't do this without you. This commitment to the construction and contracting sectors from your union shows that we are serious about fighting for better outcomes.

At a time when the Sydney construction sector is booming it's time for electrical contracting companies to share this prosperity with their workers.

This is a new approach but it will only be successful with your support so get on board and let your organising team know what needs to be done to deliver better outcomes for ETU members.

Your ETU Organisers are:

In unity,

Steve Butler - ETU Secretary

In accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work Registered Organisation Act 2009 the CEPU Electrical Division, NSW Branch (the Branch) has made available to members the complete financial report and associated documents for 2015.

By law the Branch must provide a copy of their financial report to members, this can be downloaded from the members area after logging in. Click here to access the CEPU 2015 financial report.

The ETU negotiating committee elected by you have now been attempting to negotiate an Agreement with Fuji Xerox for the last 9 months with no success. Fuji Xerox has continued to maintain an untenable position despite having their non-union anti-worker agreement voted down in January by a figure of 226 to 33.

Yesterday your negotiating committee again met with FXA at their request. Whilst there was some progress the two parties remain apart in some key areas which are of high priority to our members.

  1. FXA insisting on a mere $2,000 base salary rise with the abolition of the performance pay system.
  2. FXA insisting on the introduction of GPS tracking.
  3. FXA insisting on a reduced redundancy cap for new starters - down from 78 weeks to 52 weeks
  4. FXA insisting on no status quo provision for the dispute procedure. In other words once they have satisfied their requirements to consult on the introduction of a workplace change they can implement even if employees do not agree. Then the proposal is in for ever.

There was some progress in the following areas;

  • Walking Allowance; FXA proposed to retain the walking allowance at $12,500 / annum.
  • Technical Specialist Allowance; FXA are proposing a cumulative $2,000 increase over a 3 year period whereby in year 1 of the agreement there would be an increase of $1,000 and in year 3 an increase of $1,000.
  • Travelling Time; - ETU to come up with a  more specific set of words to replace the current clause regarding how travelling time would apply to avoid excess travelling in employees own time not being compensated.
  • Car Allowance; FXA propose that new starters would be afforded the current car allowance subject to a maximum ceiling threshold of 50% of all employees utilising this provision. i.e. once the 50% threshold is reached, new starters on the agreement would not be eligible for a car allowance until such time as someone else on that provision exited the company or opted for a company car. Apparently this proportion roughly aligns with the current ratio of Agreement employees to total employees - who qualify for this provision. Currently 165 employees have a car allowance.
  • Excess Km’s for car allowance; FXA propose to retain the current 16,000 km threshold.
  • Consultative Committee Union Official representation; The ETU as a compromise proposed a regular 6 month; EBA implementation issues oversight committee, where workplace representatives and union officials would be automatically invited. The committee would review and oversee issues associated with the practical implementation of EBA related issues.
  • Drop Points; FXA maintain that this is a purely opt in / opt out system and that if employees wish to pick up parts during work time then that would be facilitated.

Whilst it is true to say that progress was made at yesterday’s meeting, the critical outstanding matters identified by our members and listed above are still unresolved. The ETU agreed to meet again with FXA management next Wednesday 15th June.

In the meantime and as you are aware, members have instructed us to apply for a protected action ballot with the Fair Work Commission (FWC). That application to the FWC has been successful which now means that you will get the opportunity to vote for the right to take protected action. Protected action means that any industrial action as listed in the application comes with the indemnity of the Fair Work Act and is 100% legal. What you are voting for is the right to take that action – it is not an automatic outcome that action will necessarily occur. Whether we subsequently take action will be decided by members’ in concert with your officials if the ballot is successful in the affirmative.

I have attached the Protected Action Ballot schedule for your information. Please note the dates. Members can expect to begin receiving their postal ballots in the mail by Friday 10 June 2016. It is extremely important that members understand that in order for the vote to be successful, at least 50% of all eligible union members must vote. Of that 50% participation, 50% + 1 must have voted “YES” in order for you just to have the right to eventually take protected industrial action. It is absolutely essential that a high “YES” vote be recorded in this ballot so that we have a clear mandate to take protected action if we need to. Make sure you tick all the listed actions to give you the opportunity to exercise each action if we decide to take action. Please do the following and encourage you’re your colleagues to do the same;

  1. Participate in the vote promptly by returning the ballot paper ASAP after you receive it in the post from the Australian Electoral Commission.
  2. Vote “YES” to ensure that the vote is carried with a resounding majority.

Now is not the time to show weakness by returning a wishy washy vote. We need to enable our right to take action in accordance with the Fair Work Act. As always, sticking together, staying strong and following through are the only way to achieve what we want for ourselves, workmates and our families.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

In Unity - Mark Buttigieg

ETU Construction Delegates attended the Building Trade Group of Unions this morning along with our brothers from the CFMEU, AMWU, Plumbers and TWU...

We must fight to stop the Liberals & Nationals attacks on construction workers through their draconian ABCC.

ETU members are invited to attend a public forum on the future of education covering TAFE and university. The forum will be held on Wednesday 15 June at the Campbelltown RSL, 1 Carberry Lane, Cambelltown at 7pm.

Please RSVP to: mstuart@actu.org.au