STOWE"S FAULTY WIRING SHOCKS BARANGAROO WORKER
ETU action today saw a Prohibition Notice issued to contractor Stowe Australia after a worker received an electric shock at Barangaroo yesterday.
Faulty wiring installed by unlicensed electricians caused the shock, regulator SafeWork NSW found.
The Notice bans all work on mounted power points in the affected area until new systems, including supervision, are in place.
The incident is just the latest safety breach on the massive Barangaroo site under builder Lend Lease.
ETU organiser Fred Barbin called on Stowe to properly train workers in the required temporary wiring standard AS 3012.
‘The ETU will continue to actively monitor the Barangaroo site to ensure workers can go home safely,’ said Fred.
SAFETY CONCERNS ON YOUR SITE? CONTACT THE ETU TEAM IMMEDIATELY
Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians
Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians
STOWE"S FAULTY WIRING SHOCKS BARANGAROO WORKER
Electricians again walk off $200m Opera House renovation over safety fears followings asbestos tests
Electrical workers this morning stopped work on the $200 million renovation of the Sydney Opera House, refusing to continue with the installation of cabling through the iconic building after receiving confirmation that potentially-deadly friable asbestos had again been located in work areas.
Scientific testing of samples collected yesterday were this morning confirmed to contain friable asbestos, sparking a meeting of electrical workers where they decided to walk off the job immediately until the serious safety issue was resolved.
The incident is the second time in two months that asbestos concerns have halted renovation works on the iconic building, with the Electrical Trades Union demanding the safety regulator and NSW Government intervene to ensure the issue is resolved.
“This issue was first identified two months ago, with SafeWork NSW giving builder Laing O'Rourke a weak slap on the wrist. The company had seven days to remove the asbestos or eliminate the threat to workers through appropriate safety measures and have clearly failed to do so,” ETU secretary Dave McKinley said.
“Electricians yesterday raised the alarm that they were again being exposed to loose asbestos fibres, which has now been confirmed by scientific testing.
“Two months after this major safety issue was uncovered, and the builder was ordered to rectify it by the safety regulator, we have again seen workers exposed to these carcinogenic fibres.”
Mr McKinley said the union was demanding the NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Keen, immediately launch an investigation as to why SafeWork NSW refuses to impose a prohibition notice on Laing O'Rourke, which would prevent any construction work from taking place in the contaminated areas until the asbestos was isolated and removed by specialist contractors.
“It is completely unacceptable that workers, performers and the general public continue to be exposed to a toxic substance at this iconic building, particularly as the builder is receiving $200 million from taxpayers to carry out the renovations,” he said.
“Electricians have made a decision to put their safety first, despite the fact that Laing O'Rourke previously threatened to have them prosecuted in the Fair Work Commission after accusing them of taking unlawful industrial action when they last stopped work over asbestos concerns.
“It’s pretty clear the system is broken when workers are threatened with legal action for refusing to expose themselves to a deadly substance like asbestos, yet the safety regulator seems unwilling to ensure the builder is abiding by workplace health and safety laws.
“The NSW Government need to get off their backsides, take responsibility for this serious issue, and ensure that all asbestos is removed from the Opera House.”
The ETU is seriously concerned at the latest figures which show the number of people undertaking an apprenticeship - including in the electrical trades - has plummeted.
Shadow Minister for Skill's David Harris pointed out today that the number of apprenticeships being undertaking in September last year was 82,600 down from 146,200 in 2010.
This drop of almost 50% in five years is alarming. At the same time the ETU has witnessed a reduction in the quality of trade outcomes following the implementation of "Smart & Skilled" which has financially gutted the TAFE system and reduced face to face training time.
ETU Secretary Steve Butler said that this is a worrying trend which is not reversed will have severe consequences for all trades right across NSW.
"We have had feedback from many employers saying that the quality of apprentice training has dropped significantly." Steve said.
"On the job employers are seeing a drop off in the skills of apprentices particularly around competency and safety."
"The ETU has commissioned research into trade outcomes to help identify the problem and how it may be addressed."
"We have already started talking to MPs about changes and we will have more to say on this front later this month." said Steve.
The ETU is required to disclose any political expenditure incurred during a declared period leading up to NSW General Elections. This disclosure was made by the ETU NSW Branch and the CEPU Electrical Division NSW Branch on Tuesday 22 September in accordance with reporting requirements.
The ETU today received confirmation from the NSW Electoral Funding Authority that our disclosure has been reviewed and accepted with no questions arising.
Full details of all political disclosures for all entities will be available on the NSW Electoral Funding Authority website next month.
New workers compensation laws are making life tough for injured workers, according to a new study from Macquarie University, funded by unions. Yet Andrew Constance, the NSW Finance Minister argues overall his scheme is helping people get back to work and delivering savings.
ABC 7.30 covered this story last week highlighting just how these changes are hurting ordinary people - view the ABC 7.30 report here.
On 1 January, 2014 injured workers who used to have their medical expenses covered by the workers compensation system were relegated to the scrap heap after changes by the O'Farrell Government took effect.
Injured workers who were waiting for medical procedures of were continuing to incur medical treatment costs were told by private insurers they were no longer covered leaving these people, many retiree's and pensioners, without any options and facing financial and personal hardship.
Unions NSW commissioned a report through Macquarie University to look at the impact of the O'Farrell Government's changes and the negative impact they are having on vulnerable injured workers. The full report can be read here.
COAG have announced that they have officially aborted the National Licensing model covering electrical and other trade based licenses.
Following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.
To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.
The Building and Construction Security of Payment Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced to the NSW parliament last week. This is the first piece of reform stemming from the 2012 Independent Inquiry into Construction Industry Insolvency chaired by Bruce Collins QC.
The Collins Inquiry made a number of recommendations mainly relating to payment practices in the contractual chain between principal/owner, head contractor and subcontractor, including:
Introduction of Trust Accounts for money paid by a principle to a Head Contractor for Sub Contractors.
Prohibition of Head Contractors would be prohibited from accessing any of that Trust until all subcontractor payments have been made
Maximum time of 28 days for payments to be made from a Head contractor to a Subcontractor
The creation of a Building and Construction Commission with responsibility for control and regulation of all aspects of the Industry (including licencing) similar to the Queensland model.
Penalties for making false statutory declarations.
A disputes board to be set up for major Government contracts to handle, among other things, payments to subcontractors
These and other findings from the inquiry would deliver a lot more security for subcontractors and potentially help limit the number of contractors who end up insolvent.
Unfortunately the O’Farrell Government has been slow to move on the recommendations from the Collins Inquiry, which was released back in January, and this piece of Legislation would have only introduced a guarantee of a maximum thirty day period for the payment of progress claims. The Labor Party have been successful in amending the legislation in the NSW Upper House and it now includes the provisions for the Trust accounts to be established for retention money.
Two Federal Court decisions ruling the Victorian construction guidelines' limits on enterprise agreements (EA) constituted adverse action have left NSW's construction guidelines under a cloud.
Last week the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) won cases against a principal contractor, McCorkell Constructions, and the State of Victoria on the basis that adhering to the guidelines constituted adverse action under the FW Act because they limited EA content and employees had a right to make an EA. In March, NSW IR minister Mike Baird introduced construction guidelines modelled on the Victorian ones which similarly restrict EA content.
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon told a delegates' meeting on May 30 the CFMEU has written to Baird arguing the guidelines should be scrapped. A spokesperson for Baird told WFNSW the State Government was examining the Victorian cases but reiterated it will be introducing guidelines on July 1.
The Vic Govt has decided to appeal the decisions.
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