ETU Media Releases

Unions NSW, Electrical Trades Union and AMWU activists will today hit the streets in a leafleting blitz to call on NSW residents to reconsider purchasing Carlton and United Breweries products.

The company terminated the jobs of 54 electricians and fitters last month, before inviting them to reapply for their jobs with a 65 per cent pay cut.

Union-busting labour is now being bused into the facility on a daily basis.

"CUB has built its brand on blue collar sweat, but today it is leaving a very bitter aftertaste. To turn its back on its unionised workforce is deep treachery," said Dave McKinley, ETU Assistant Secretary.

"Today, we are returning serve. We are calling on trade union members across NSW to reconsider supporting all CUB brands, including VB."

AMWU State Secretary, Tim Ayres, endorsed the call. "CUB's behaviour in Melbourne is despicable. You can't extol Australian workers in your ads while sacking workers in your factory. This company is completely disingenuous.”

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said the entire NSW trade union movement was behind the campaign.

"This action has the backing of the entire NSW trade union movement. We will use every means at our disposal to hold CUB to account."

A first-year electrical apprentice has been rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital following a fall of approximately five metres at the Barangaroo construction site in Darling Harbour.

The incident occurred shortly after 8am today when the apprentice fell through a temporary floor cover over one of the service risers.

The apprentice, employed by the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) Group Training company and working for Stowe Australia, was being supervised by another apprentice at the time of the fall. This second apprentice raised the alarm.

Officials from the Electrical Trades Union attended the site immediately following the incident and have already identified a number of other safety breaches, including workers being exposed to live electrical cables.

The builder, Lend Lease, has moved to stop all riser work in tower three until a review of the electrical contractor Stowe Australia has been undertaken.

ETU organiser Stewart Edward said that the apprentice suffered leg and back injuries.

“From what we know so far, the apprentice appears to have suffered leg and back injuries after calling approximately five metres,” Mr Edward said.

“He was treated on the scene by ambulance paramedics and has been transported to Royal North Shore Hospital.

“Thankfully, his injuries do not appear to be critical.

“Today’s incident is the latest in a string of safety breaches on the Barangaroo site, including some that have resulted in workers losing their lives.

“Both Stowe Australia and NECA Group Training have a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

“If it is found that they have breached their responsibilities it could lead to prosecution of both organisations, which is something we will be looking at very closely.”

The union informed SafeWork NSW, with inspectors attending the scene to carry out their own investigation.

“This incident could easily have ended with a tragic outcome,” Mr Edward said.

“The ETU will be pursuing this matter to ensure that this kind of incident does not occur again.”

A 62 year old electrical worker has died in hospital of his injuries just days after falling from an extension ladder while working on a construction site in Kensington Street, Chippendale.

The Electrical Trades Union said building work on the site had stopped following the worker’s fall on Wednesday afternoon, with WorkCover NSW issuing prohibition notices in relation to all ladders on the site.

The injured man suffered serious head injuries when he struck the ground, and despite being transported to hospital he later passed away.

ETU spokesman Dave McKinley said union officials had visited the site on at least two occasions prior to the fatal fall, raising a range of safety concerns including in relation to work at heights.

Mr McKinley said that while the deceased man was employed through a labour hire company, workplace health and safety legislation places the ultimate duty of care for providing a safe working environment on builder Rapid Construction and principal electrical contractor Ozlect Electrical.

“From our initial investigations, it appears there have been multiple safety breaches on this construction site that may have directly contributed to this man’s tragic death,” he said.

“Despite previous visits by union officials who highlighted serious safety concerns, including in relation to work carried out at heights, there appears to have been no safe work method statements in place and faulty equipment, including ladders, in use.

“Investigations are ongoing, however a site-wide safety audit conducted following this accident revealed what appear to be systemic failures to implement safe systems of work.

“All work on the project has halted, and safety regulator WorkCover NSW has issued prohibition notices in relation to all ladders on site.

“There are serious questions that still need to be answered by the builder and electrical contractor to explain how this tragic accident was able to occur.

“It is shocking that dozens of workers still die on Australian construction sites every year due to accidents that are easily avoidable if safe work practices are made a priority.”

Workers are demanding a thorough investigation into safety at Barangaroo South following a serious incident that saw a labour hire contractor come in contact with live electricity while carrying out commissioning work in a switch room, in the second serious electrical incident at the site this year.

The Electrical Trades Union said two electricians, employed by labour hire company LUHAN Group, had been working on the site for more than 15 hours when one of them came into contact with a live circuit.

Despite the incident occurring at 9.40pm on Thursday, safety regulator WorkCover NSW was not notified of the accident until 200 workers from major electrical contractor Stowe Australia stopped work on the site and demanded proper scrutiny of the accident.

ETU secretary Steve Butler said inspectors from WorkCover issued two prohibition notices — preventing certain work from occurring — following their visit to the site.

“There are serious questions that still need answering about how this electrician was able to make contact with a live circuit, which had the potential to deliver a fatal electric shock,” Mr Butler said.

“The union has been told that these two men — employed by a labour hire contractor — had been working for more than 15 hours at the time of the incident.

“They were there without supervision, no safe work method statement had been prepared for what they were doing, there was no observer in the switch room in case of an emergency, and there were reportedly delays with the response to the accident.

“It is also concerning that the safety regulator was not notified about the incident until after the union and workers demanded the cause of the accident be properly investigated.”

Mr Butler said he was deeply concerned that labour hire workers, who have no job security, were being pressured to work long hours in dangerous conditions at Barangaroo.

“Unlike the electrical workers employed by major contractors on site, these labour hire workers have no job security, so they find it extremely challenging to raise safety concerns,” he said.

“It is difficult to imagine permanent electricians being forced to work more than 15 hours straight without proper safety procedures in place, yet that was what was asked of these two men.”

A potentially fatal electrical safety breach during construction of the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour has led to more than 40 electricians refusing to carry out non-emergency work.

All electrical workers on the site — employees of major electrical contractors Stowe Australia and Fredon — yesterday voted to halt work following a meeting of the safety committee, where they indicated they had no confidence in the ability of builder Lend Lease to provide a safe workplace.

The decision follows an incident where an electrician had “locked out” a switchboard, ensuring a circuit remained off while electrical work was carried out.

When the electricians finished work for the day, a Lend Lease foreman allegedly ordered another worker to use an angle grinder to cut off the padlock and restore power to the circuit. The following morning an electrical worker was just moments from being electrocuted when he recommenced work on what he believed was still a de-energised circuit.

The Electrical Trades Union said the incident, a clear breach of basic safety precautions, had almost led to the fourth fatality on a Sydney construction site in less than a fortnight.

“It is an industry standard that electricians use special padlocks to ‘lock out’ switch boards and other electrical equipment, preventing power from being restored to circuits that are currently being worked on,” ETU secretary Steve Butler said.

“These large padlocks include a written warning explaining that the circuit is locked out, with only the electrician that installed the lock authorised to remove it, for obvious safety reasons.

“It is extremely concerning that a Lend Lease foreman would deliberately breach this procedure by ordering a worker to cut the lock off and restore power, with no warning to electricians that this had taken place.”

Mr Butler said workers were also concerned that it had taken almost a week for Lend Lease to report the incident to WorkCover NSW, and that the safety regulator had said it would not be investigating the breach.

“The union is demanding that both Lend Lease and WorkCover NSW conduct a thorough investigation of how basic safety practices were suspended, putting lives at risk,” he said.

“Lend Lease is currently responsible for several major construction sites across Sydney, including Barangaroo, with workers complaining of systemic safety issues across these projects.

“In this case, an essential and long-standing safety practice — an electrician ‘locking out’ a circuit that was currently undergoing work — was completely disregarded, putting lives at risk.

As a result electrical workers have been left with no choice but to halt work and only respond to emergencies until Lend Lease can ensure their safety.

“It really shouldn’t be too much to ask that basic safety practices be undertaken to ensure every worker is able to return home safely to their family each night.”


The Central West has been hit with two announcements that will deliver massive job losses for Bathurst and Orange.

Appliance manufacturer Electrolux based at Orange yesterday announced that they plan to close their production facility by 2016, which will result in the loss of 500 jobs.

This announcement comes hot on the heals of another announcement by food manufacturer Simplot, who's brands include Edgell, Birdseye, Leggo's and Chiko among others.

Simplot announced on Thursday the loss of 110 jobs at their Kelso plant after the company announced that they would reduce local operations, bringing the total job losses for the Central West to more than 600 in just two days.

Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Secretary, Steve Butler, said that these announcements would have a devastating impact on the region.

"What we have here are more than 600 well paying, highly skilled local jobs being slashed.”

"We all know that the manufacturing sector is under intense pressure from global competition and the high Australian dollar but it is also clear that all levels of government must do more,” said Mr. Butler.

"Private companies make these decisions based on profit and their ability to compete, the simple fact is that Australian manufacturing can not compete with places like China, Malaysia and India so we have to look at other ways to protect these jobs.”

"Our government like to talk about "Free Trade" deals with places like China and the United States but what we need is "Fair Trade" where locally made products can compete on price and where local jobs are viable and protected." Mr. Butler said.

"I don't believe things will change, unless our Government change their approach to manufacturing in Australia.  If this does not happen we will continue to bleed good quality jobs like those being lost in the Central West." Mr. Butler said.

"As representatives of the workforce, the ETU and other unions will obviously working closely with these companies to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved from what is a dire set of circumstances.”

"Our primary concern will be to save as many jobs as possible, help find work for those who lose their jobs and to make sure all entitlements are paid."