Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

A worker aged in his 30’s was tragically killed yesterday while working on the construction of the Barangaroo ferry hub. It has been reported that a steel beam fell and crushed the worker at around 4.30pm on the afternoon of Wednesday 1 March.

NSW Police and Safework NSW are investigating but ETU organiser Stewart Edward said that yesterday’s tragic accident was the latest in a long list of OHS problems that have plagued the site ever since construction started.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of all ETU members go out to this workers family.” said Stewart.

“Every single worker deserves to go home safe at night to his or her family and sadly yesterday’s incident is the latest in a long list of OHS problems that have occurred on this site over a period of years.

“I can only hope that this is the last accident and fatality to occur on this site but based on past safety performance I am not confident that it will be.” Stewart said.

“The reintroduction of the ABCC and the building code, which are designed to limit the ability of unions to access sites and represent members, will only make matters worse in the future, but right now we need all members to look out for each other and to identify potential safety breaches before an accident can occur.”

“The best chance workers have at maintaining high safety standards is to join their union and notify us when there is a problem.” finished Stewart.

Work is about to commence on the casino project within the precinct which is expected to provide a further three to four years work of construction work. The ETU has concerns around the level of Labour Hire being used in all trades across the site and the union will be making this a focus well into the future.

Young electricians in Sydney are now reporting that some electrical contracting bosses are ‘setting up’ workers to dud them out of entitlements such as annual leave, RDO’s, leave loading and notice period. This can often amount to tens of thousands of dollars which the bosses refuse to pay the workers

The ETU has now been involved in several cases that have come to light where workers are told that the employer has evidence of misconduct including issues such as theft or working outside of work for someone else.  Often this is just an allegation without any proof but the employer points to dodgy contracts drawn up to pressure the young workers.

Also In some cases young workers have been told that because they did not return PPE such as, a shirt or hard hat, then the company will not pay them their entitlements. These bosses then threaten the workers with legal action and even the police. Some of these workers are given an ultimatum ‘either you resign or we will sack you’ and that they will tell others in the industry that these workers are no good at their job. Faced with this intimidation from bosses some workers have walked away without their entitlements.

In one particular case, a young electrician in Sydney who worked for a contractor who was subcontracted to Heyday 5, sought assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.  However, instead of the Fair Work Ombudsman advising the electrician that he could join a relevant union, he was told that he could seek legal assistance.  The young worker then engaged a lawyer who charged him approximately $400 per hour to represent him.  Faced with potential legal action from his former employer, and owed almost $20,000, the young electrician was forced to represent himself at great cost. 

Incredibly, the employer cancelled four mediation appointments with the Fair Work Ombudsman leaving the young worker stressed and at a loss to how to recover his entitlements and stop the increasing legal costs.  Then the young electrician heard about the ETU after a visit to site by organisers Antony Stegic and Fred Barbin.  The worker was told that the ETU could represent him and that we would pursue his case

The ETU agreed to a final mediation with the Fair Work Ombudsman to resolve things.  However, far from settling the amount owed, the employer argued that the worker should provide evidence of what he had done. Unbelievably, despite the employer agreeing that the amount of money owed for the entitlements was correct, pressure was applied to the young Electrician to settle for nearly half of what he was entitled to. The dodgy boss provided no evidence at all despite owing the money for four months.  The ETU officials were shocked at the process to say the least, which allowed an employer to withhold entitlements worth nearly $20,000 for four months without any evidence to Fair Work, the young electrician or the ETU.

Since the failure of the mediation at Fair Work, ETU officials have visited numerous sites in an effort to address the issue.  The good news is that the new ETU member’s problem has now been resolved. Not only has the ETU recovered the full amount but the dodgy boss has even agreed to pay the legal costs incurred by the young electrician. 

The young electrician in this example had nothing but praise for the ETU.

“If it wasn’t for the presence of the ETU officials during the mediation I would have felt pressured to accept half of what I was entitled to.” said the young electrician who cannot be named as part of the negotiated settlement.

ETU recruitment officer Antony Stegic was happy that he and colleague Fred Barbin were able to secure entitlements that rightfully belonged to the ETU member.

“Young electricians and apprentice should join the ETU to find out their rights.” Antony said.

“If you are put in a similar situation DO NOT RESIGN call an ETU official immediately.

“Many young people in the industry are taken advantage of by dodgy bosses who would rather buy themselves expensive cars with your hard earned money.” said Antony.

“The ETU is not here to mediate away electrician’s entitlements, we are here to make sure dodgy bosses pay what they owe”. Antony finished.

This morning ETU members at Fredon voted down Fredon's nonunion EBA.  A clear majority of nearly 90 workers overwhelmingly rejected the company's offer to give up their hard fought conditions in return for little more than back pay. The bosses had tried to sneak the agreement out without consulting the ETU, delegates or talking to the workers using 'the carrot' of the back pay and 'the stick' of it not being offered again!

Fredon bosses, including recently appointed NECA national President, Alan Brown rolled out the nonunion EBA to its workers on Friday 9th of December, despite an agreement between Fredon and their employees and their appointed bargaining agent, the ETU. After negotiations stalled earlier this year, Fredon bosses issued an email to its workforce saying that the ETU was seeking further legal advice. The ETU agreed with Fredon management to resume negotiations once they had that advice. Instead of sticking to that agreement, Fredon bosses sought to undermine the union by claiming the ETU had failed to get back to them.  These are the underhanded tactics NECA members have been using for years.

As Fredon bosses are well aware, the only time the ETU could start to get firm advice was after the Federal Election and then the subsequent vote in the Federal senate. This legislation regarding the ABCC and the 'building code only became law from midnight 2nd December 2016. Only then could the ETU start to determine a position which was best for it's members without being forced to give up key employment security clauses protecting labour hire and apprentices rates.  The ETU is currently working through the ramifications of the extreme legislation which was lobbied for by NECA ( see Alan Brown) and passed in the senate by the liberal/nationals, and independents including Pauline Hanson(one nation), Nick Xenophon, Derren Hynch and others.

Th ETU will continue to update members at Fredon on the requests made to Fredon management to sit down to negotiate a union EBA

On behalf of its members at Fredon and across the contracting sector the ETU would like to wish all members,  activists and delegates a Merry Christmas and a happy 2017.

CUB 55 REINSTATED ON FULL PAY!

Posted on 08-12-2016

Yesterday the CUB55 were reinstated by their employer Carlton & United Breweries to their old jobs on full pay, representing a massive victory for these workers made possible thought strong collective action and the support of their unions the ETU and AMWU.

ETU NSW members must be congratulated on their efforts and support for these workers through your countless workplace actions, fund raisers, donations, rally’s and messages of support – without your support this campaign would not have gained the traction it did.

Your commitment to boycott CUB products hit the company where it hurt - in the back pocket - the good news is we can now return to the CUB products we all love to drink.

Thank you for your support over the past few months it has made a huge difference and helped these workers secure what was rightfully theirs in time for Christmas.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary.

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.

 

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.

Last night ETU and AMWU members working at Kone in Newcastle voted unanimously to continue industrial action in their fight to secure an enterprise agreement.

Kone, who pay their workers under enterprise agreements across the entire country with the exception of Newcastle, are refusing to extend fair agreement conditions to ETU members in Newcastle. This has resulted in ETU and AMWU members taking prolonged industrial action to secure a fair outcome.

ETU Organiser Justin Page has been supporting the guys throughout the fight with the group growing more resolved to secure an agreement.

"If Kone don't want to come to the party ETU members have made it clear that they will continue their action." said Justin Page.

At the same time as voting for ongoing industrial action this group of dedicated members also sent a message of support to our brothers at the ETU Victorian Branch who are continuing their fight with CUB.