Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

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.

 

National Licensing Aborted

Posted on 20-12-2013

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.

Click here to read the full COAG statement.

Click here to read the letter from NSW Fair trading to the ETU NSW.

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.