Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Canberra Construction Update

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 10, 2016

Electrical Contracting in Canberra construction is a mix of major companies and smaller locals companies competing for work.

The ETU has commenced negotiations with the ACT Branch of Heyday 5 and we will not be expecting any shenanigans like those suffered by our Sydney brothers.

The ETU will also be commencing negotiations with a local company, Martin Donnelly, and we have concluded negotiations, with a good result, with Shepherd Electrical earlier this year. Our friends at Fredon are years late, a dollar short and slow to the table.

While we have continued relatively good relationship with most companies one has snuck under the radar. We attempted a number of times to contact Stowe by post, phone, visits and email. But no response.

What Stowe was up to was convincing employees they needed a “race to the bottom” resulting in some of the lowest rates of pay for Electricians in this area. When the ETU discovered a crappy non-union EBA was lodged in the Fair Work Commission we opposed the agreement. Unfortunatly, the employees had trusted the boss, swallowed the bait and voted yes.

The Stowe Canberra EBA, supported by a majority, provides the following:

  • Transferred apprentices to NECA group training and cuts 30% out of their rates of pay
  • Specifically excluded apprentices from the EBA – to continue low pay rates
  • The existing Licensed Electricians are currently on a rate of $40.72 which will be increased after 2 years by 2.1%
  • The next increase after that will be at 3 years and 2.1%
  • This has created a 1% per year EBA – a tragic outcome for highly skilled workers.

From there it’s all downhill:

  • Newly employed Electricians will start at $29.46 per hour
  • This rate will increase to a maximum of $36.83 per hour after going through a number of steps
  • The increases are at management discretion so you could remain at $29.46

In most other respects the EBA is the same as, or slightly less than, the competition. This is a race to the bottom from what used to be a good employer. This agreement is a dog, and there is no other way of describing it.

ETU Officials in Newcastle are telling me this agreement is now being used as the “blueprint” and being portrayed as the model. ETU members across the state should not fall for this and the only way to secure a better outcome is to join the union, get active, stick together and stand your ground. When it comes to large companies like Stowe, this approach and attempt to dud workers with a substandard agreement is unacceptable.

Stowe cannot be allowed to get away with this anywhere else and while they may have got their Canberra agreement registered, the ETU will be watching these grubs very closely ready to take action at any opportunity.

All ETU members should immediately alert their organiser if their boss attempts to pull a swiftly and follow in the miserable footsteps of Stowe Canberra.