Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Canberra Construction Update

Posted on 10-11-2016

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.

ETU members working at OTIS are set to benefit from a new agreement that delivers improvements to members over the next three years.

The combined union negotiating committee covering ETU and AMWU members commenced negotiations almost six months ago and were able to present a draft agreement to a mass meeting held at Unions NSW yesterday.

The new agreement will operate for three years and delivers significant improvements for ETU members including:

  • 4% wage increase each year for the life of the agreement
  • Back pay to the 1st of May
  • Increase to MERT each year for the life of agreement
  • Increase to LAHA each year for life of the agreement
  • Increase to First Aid allowance each year for the life of the agreement
  • Increase to Fares & Travel each year for the life of the agreement
  • Increase to the remote allowance

ETU Organiser Steve Bankes said that the ETU members have done well out of negotiations with the result delivering real pay increases to members well above inflation.

“This is a good agreement that delivers improvements across the board without any need for trade offs” Steve said.

“ETU members will receive wage increases totaling 12% over three years which goes to show that it pays to be an ETU member and that the union continues to deliver for our members.

“Yesterday’s meeting voted almost unanimously in favor of the agreement which will now be registered with Fair Work with benefits to flow through to member’s immediately.” said Steve.

“When you compare this outcome with non-union workplaces where workers are most likely loosing conditions it shows just how valuable ETU membership is.” finished Steve.

ETU members across the construction sector are raising money and awareness around site safety after five construction workers were killed on Sydney construction sites over the past three weeks.

ETU Recruitment Officer, Mick Hopper said that ETU members were paying their respects to those workers that have lost their lives on construction sites by wearing black arm bands and observing a minute silence at meetings held across sites this week.

“Over the past three weeks we have seen five guys lose their lives on Sydney construction sites.” Said Mick Hopper.

“That is five men to many and five men that did not go home to their families which is unacceptable.

“ETU members are paying their respects and raising awareness about site safety at the same time to make sure no one else is tragically killed.” Mick Hopper said.

“I want to make sure every single ETU member goes home safe each day and our union will not tolerate dodgy bosses who take short cuts when it comes to OHS.”

“If any member has any concerns about safety they should immediately notify the ETU who will attend site and respond to concerns.” said Mick.

Unions NSW will be holding a lunchtime Workers Compensation rally outside NSW Parliament on 4 November 2016 at 12:30pm

The rally coincides with public hearings for the first review of the 2012 workers compensation changes.

Unions NSW has made an extensive submission to the Law and Justice Committee painting a horrifying picture of the scale of the devastation wreaked by the changes to workers compensation: from suicides to soup kitchens and everything in between.

At the rally on 4 November 2016 we will be hearing from injured workers and highlighting the harsh impact of the 2012 changes on the injured workers of NSW and their families.

There will also be regional events:

Wollongong - 31 October 2016
Orange - 2 November 2016
Newcastle - 3 November; and
A date for an event in Lismore is being finalised.

By keeping the pressure on the Government about workers comp we have won significant changes including more than doubling the medical cap and reducing the threshold for lifetime cover among other changes. This rally is an important part of our plan to keep winning improvements to the scheme.

Sydney Event Details:
Outside NSW Parliament, Macquarie St Sydney
12:30pm on Friday 4 November 2016

ETU member and Nilsen Engineering Services electrician Dan Ta has won the ETU footy tipping competition after leading the competition for the first twelve rounds before being knocked out of first place necessitating a comeback late in the season.

Dan said the comp was neck and neck with one other member as they headed into the finals where Dan adopted a strategy to pick the opposite teams to his rival, a strategy which paid off handing Dan Ta victory in the final two rounds.

Dan has won a week’s accommodation in the ETU’s Holiday Cabins located at Nambucca Heads on the NSW north coast. Dan said he is planning to get away sometime next year with his wife and kids where the will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the White Albatross Holiday Park where the ETU cabins are located.

When asked what his tip is for ETU members participating in next years’ footy tipping contest Dan said that the Parramatta Eel’s are set to be the Premiers and any member that supports the Eel’s throughout the season will be rewarded.

Details on next year’s footy tipping comp will be provided a couple of weeks before the NRL comp starts.

 

ETU Newcaslte Have Moved

Posted on 24-10-2016

The ETU office is Newcastle has relocated to the following address:

Hunter Workers Building
Suite 4B
Ground Floor
406-408 King Street
Newcastle West  NSW  2302

Phone, fax and email remain unchanged:

Phone: 02 4968 2488
Fax: 02 4968 3466
Email: etunewcastle@etunsw.asn.au

You will have or will be receiving your official ballot and return envelope to vote on managements proposed EBA. All members would have received a copy of the agreement which was emailed to you last week by the company. The ballot paper and reply envelope has be mailed to your home address.
 
The ETU encourage all members to read thru the proposed EBA thoroughly and consider how the agreement affects your workplace/workmates, you as an individual and your family. We also refer members to our previous notices outlining how well the company is performing as a result of your hard work and commitment – you can click here to read our previous notice.

Here are some facts to consider:

  1. Due to the inability to set the maximum rostered week at 40 hours under the proposed agreement the company can refer to the award. Under the award a working week can be rostered with as many as 60 hours per week as long as the roster cycle (field technician - 8-10 weeks) maintains a 38 hour average per week. Wages can be adjusted according to rostered hours for any given week.
  2. Away from home allowance will only be payed when working OUTSIDE YOUR COST CENTER.
  3. Under the agreement it is possible that actual weekend earnings could fall as a result of reduced working hours.
  4. During the EBA roadshows the company estimated the total value of the EBA package to be between circa $400,000, please read our earlier notice on just how well the company is performing.
  5. The company estimates the rollout costs of GPS/AWS to exceed $2 MILLION DOLLARS. So the company is prepared to spend four time more on monitoring than investing in their people.

It is essential all members vote and it is up to you how you vote. Please submit your sealed vote directly to your delegate, unit manager or use the reply paid envelope.

It’s up to Members to Decide.

The ETU Will respect the view of members. If you vote to accept this agreement the ETU will be party to the agreement and we will continue to represent you in the workplace by making sure any new agreement is enforced.

If members vote to reject the agreement, we will return to the negotiating table with your negotiating committee/delegates and seek to secure an improved offer.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of your delegates or ETU Organiser Ben Lister on 0400 264 007 / benl@etunsw.asn.au

ETU Organisers attended a Richard Crookes construction site in Leichhardt first thing this morning after being alerted on the weekend that two workers suffered electric shock.

After attending the site, the ETU has learned that the incident occurred on Saturday when an excavation team attempted to move a temporary switchboard which was damaged in the process leading to one of the three phases pulling away from the links with the board and frame becoming live.

ETU Organiser Fred Barbin said qualified electrical workers should first isolate any temporary board before moving and that the incident could have easily resulted in a fatality.

“What we have discovered is that the excavation contractor attempted to move the board when it fell over and became live.” said Fred.

“After the board has fallen one of the workers tried to pick it up not knowing that the frame around the temp was live which has resulted in electric shock.

"A second worker was shocked when he attempted to free the first worker from the temporary power supply, it was not until a third worker using a non-conductor freed both workers by knocking them free.” Fred said.

“These two workers are very lucky to be alive, the outcome from this incident could have been much worse.” said Fred.

Builder Richard Crookes notified SafeWork NSW as soon as the incident occurred and SafeWork NSW attended the site on Saturday but as usual did not take any action. Electrical Contractor G-Force was called in to rectify the situation and make the site safe.

This is a classic example of what will happen if employer associations are successful in their push to water down electrical licensing and trade qualifications. The ETU is fighting for members to ensure our trade and license are of the highest possible standard to ensure other workers and the public remain safe from the dangers of electricity.

Apprentice Electrician Karlyn Hinchy, daughter of long time ETU lift industry member Brad Hinchy, recently received a $500 tool voucher after completing the ETU apprentice survey.

ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley presented Karlyn with her voucher and thanked apprentices for completing the survey which will assist the ETU across the country in better serving and representing electrical apprentices.

Dave said that Apprentices represent an important part of our trade and that the ETU will continue to fight to strengthen and protect our apprenticeship and trade training system.

"Electrical apprentices have a rewarding career to look forward to as they embark on a journey in the most respected trade." said Dave McKinley

"As our trade develops and evolves with new technology, the ETU will continue to stand up and fight for electrical apprentices and other workers in the electrical trades to ensure our license and trade training system remain first class.

"We can not allow governments or employers to dumb down our trade, license or safety standards under the smoke screen of lower regulation and greater efficiency.

"The ETU will not allow these kinds of attacks to occur and our first port of call will be to represent and protect our apprentices." said Dave.