Posted on 13-2-2017
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.