General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

Rally against ChAFTA

Posted on 17-7-2015

The ETU is supporting national rally's in all capital cities against Tony Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement that will see aussie workers worse off.

The China FTA allows Chinese companies investing more than A$150 million to import temporary workers without testing if local workers are available, and allows Chinese companies to sue our government for damages if changes to our laws have a negative impact on them.

A Parliamentary Committee is taking evidence about the China FTA over the next month. The ETU want to make your voice heard, by bringing our flags, banners and members together to send a message to the Australian Parliament that we do not support Abbott's China Free Trade Agreement.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Rally outside the Sydney Committee hearing, Friday 31 July, 12 noon, meet outside NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney and bring a friend.

You may have heard that just a few weeks ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed off on the China Free Trade Agreement that will allow Chinese based companies to import their own labour.

Abbott's free trade agreement also removes the requirement for mandatory skills assessment for ten occupations including: Electrician (General), Electrician (Special Class), Automotive Electrician. ALL OTHER occupations will be reviewed within two years with the aim of reducing or eliminating the need for skills assessments.

The ETU is fighting to STOP THE CHINA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT by raising this as a public issue before two parliamentary committee's consider the issues. In order to come into effect these parliamentary committees must sign off on it.

TAKE ACTION TODAY - visit the Australian Unions website and email your MP

To download a copy of the election notice please click here.

WorkCover NSW as the body responsible for workplace safety in NSW have release online videos relating to electrical safety in the workplace. Electricity is a constant hazard in many workplaces and workers who work on or near electricity are at risk of shocks, burns, other serious injuries or even death.

ETU members across NSW should take the time to review WorkCover's electrical safety information which can be viewed on the WorkCover NSW website.

Make Rio Pay!

Posted on 29-5-2015

In a court ruling on Friday the 15th of May, former Gove refinery worker Zorko Zabic, currently dying from asbestos poisoning, won his compensation case and was awarded $425,000 from Rio Tinto after originally being denied compensation due to a legal technicality.

Rio Tinto immediately launched a legal challenge attempting to stop workers making common law claims for asbestos and restrict them to the Territory’s inadequate workers’ compensation system, which denies justice to asbestos victims due to the long gestation period of the illness.

It is a bare-faced attempt to prevent asbestos victims making successful future compensation claims.

Rio Tinto must drop its High Court challenge in an asbestos compensation case in the Northern Territory, in which the mining giant is seeking to limit future claims from victims.


Negotiations have commenced on a new Blue Scope Steel EBA. Below you will find a link to the latest combined unions EBA update for Blue Scope Steel.

Click here to read the latest combined unions update.

All questions can be directed to ETU organiser Dave McKinley.

BlueScope negotiations are well underway and the company has made it clear that they are looking to wind back many of your hard fought conditions.

Their claims include:-

  • Cuts to your Security of Employment
  • Cuts to your Sick Leave entitlements
  • No More Meal Vouchers and Fewer Meal Allowances
  • Reduced Payment for Training
  • Changes to Consultation including removing Status Quo
  • Removal of the Significant Change Clause
  • No more Extended Leave and Discretionary Leave cut in half.
  • No Back Pay if negotiations drag on
  • Introduction of Part Time Employment
  • Forced 12 hours Shifts
  • Retention of rate reduced to 12 months

After BlueScope employees helped the company to turn a $300M deficit into a $75M profit over the last couple of years you would think the company had slashed enough but apparently they want a further $300M in profit in the near future.

The combined Unions have rejected these Company claims and we are pushing hard for the following:

  • Increases to wages and allowances that reflect the hard work put in by wage employees over the last 3 years,
  • New agreement to end 3 years from the end of the current agreement, with back pay to the expiry date,
  • Ability for wage employees to be trained to perform Team Leader functions (ie, level 5 & 6),
  • Morning tea and shower time to be written into the agreement to stop the ongoing attempts to remove them
  • Stopping staff from doing work covered by the agreement
  • A Fairer redundancy/selection process, and
  • Keep all current entitlements and conditions.
  • There are a number of other claims that we have not given up on and there are some others we feel should no longer be pursued.

We are holding feedback meetings for all Union members.

Venue: North Gate Visitors Centre
Dates: Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd May
Times: 6.30am and 6.30pm (both days)

Please make sure you attend one of these meetings so you have a chance for input and to hear more details about the negotiations from your Union representatives. Any questions can be directed to ETU Organiser Dave McKinley.

Working in Heat

Posted on 21-11-2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 


Continuous work with normal breaks.


Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.


Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).


Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Members at Simplot Foods at Bathurst have voted to take their first ever industrial action. Along with AMWU members the ETU have taken a 24 hour stoppage and introduced ongoing overtime bans. This has been in direct response to the companies push for members to take an effective pay cut and wind back some of the long held conditions. The offer of 0% in the first year and then 1.5% and 2% in the following years has been rejected by a vast majority of employees and as a consequence the industrial action will continue for some time.

The negotiations have been hard fought with the company seemingly being bolstered by Federal Government comments regarding workers being to blame for problems at Toyota and SPC. Simplot's GM Terry O'Brien has contradicted himself on numerous occasions by telling the employees how bad the business is going and then announcing to the business community great annual results in all of his key financial indicators. Last year O’Brien told Bathurst members ‘your wages are not a problem, no one is getting rich here’ then during negotiations made statements in the media that wage increases will put investment at risk.

The Fair Work Commission has called on a compulsory conference for next week in an attempt to resolve the matter but the members are adamant that the company needs to make a realistic offer in order for them to lift their bans and not take further action.

BlueScope Steel Update

Posted on 24-9-2014

BlueScope Steel is currently attempting to push through massive changes to the workforce in the Port Kembla Steel Works. Under the guise of a restructure the company is making large numbers of employees redundant and attempting to force maintenance workers to accept operational roles that have always been undertaken by AWU members.
In the Ore Preparation area the company has plans to outsource the whole of the workforce to Transfield. Whilst Transfield currently undertake part of the maintenance work around the Steel Works they have never performed production work nor have they replaced any shift electricians. The combined Unions are fighting hard to keep the employees and will have the issues arbitrated by FWC in November.

The restructure in the Hot Strip Mill area of BlueScope involves a reduction of the workforce as well as a push for maintenance trades to fill in for operators. Electricians will be pushed into some floor duties as well as taking on the role of Systems attendant for part of their working day.
A similar situation is being proposed for the HCPD area where sparkies will be asked to work in the weigh bridge as well as undertake a number of other floor duties that are currently the role of AWU operators.

The proposed restructure for the Plate Mill involves reducing the plants running time back to three days a week and therefore reducing the amount of employees needed to work in the mill. The introduction of twelve hour shifts for the operating staff and major changes to maintenance shifts is also a big bone of contention.

The combined Unions are fighting BlueScope hard on all of these issues have all four of them listed in Fair Work Commission. Whilst the Ore Preparation area is the only one listed for arbitration at this point I have no doubt that there will be no agreement reached with the company on the other matters and these too will end up as full blown arbitration.