Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

ETU Calls on Barilaro to Intervene.

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 24, 2016

The ETU has today written to the new leader of the NSW National Party, John Barilaro, calling on him to intervene and stop or at least minimise proposed job losses at Essential Energy. As the sole shareholder, the NSW Government has the ability to intervene and stop the job cuts if they choose.

A copy of the letter from the ETU to the Deputy Premier is available here for your information, we will continue to put political pressure on the NSW Government and in particular the NSW National Party.

Click here to access a copy of the full bench workplace determination – we encourage all employees to read this document in full taking particular attention of what your management argued for and in particular the company’s disclosure at [60] on page 36 in which Essential Energy told the Fair Work Commission that they intend to reduce their workforce from the current 3,200 positions to 1,600 positions through the use of outsourcing.

This is the company’s true plan, the one that management did not want you to see and the plan that their lawyers fought so hard to keep secret. You cannot trust management, they are not your friend however the ETU will fight for your interest regardless of the outcome, we will continue to hold management to account and we will use all available measures to secure the best outcome for members.

Tomorrow we have a phone hook up to go through the decision and what it means, this will be followed by depot visits from organisers over the coming weeks and we will also make contact with management following the handing down of the decision.

If members have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU Organiser and keep an eye out for each other, if you have any concerns please contact the union for assistance.

In Unity,
Steve Butler

Fair Work Commission hand down Essential Energy decision.

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Prior to the Workplace Determination matter Essential Energy employees were facing the prospect of an Agreement Cancellation case, which if Essential Energy were successful in, may have resulted in all Essential Energy employees reverting to the modern award with the loss of allowances and significant reduction in pay and conditions including unlimited forced redundancy.

ETU members were faced with fighting the agreement cancellation matter and rick losing or forcing the issue to arbitration and letting the Fair Work Commission determine the outcome of the Essential Energy Workplace Agreement.

In May ETU members took decisive action which forced the deadlock to arbitration covering four items, those being:

  • Consultation term,
  • Dispute Settlement Procedure,
  • Redundancy provisions, and;
  • Outsourcing provisions.

The Fair Work Commission has today handed down their Workplace Determination covering these items which is attached for members to read and consider. The following is a summary explanation provided for ETU members at Essential Energy.


The Fair Work Commission has determined that the “model consultation clause” as contained in the Fair Work Act should apply under a new workplace agreement. The “model clause” requires consultation:

“Once a definite decision to introduce a major change to production, program, organization, structure or technology in relation to its enterprise agreement that is likely to have a significant effect on the employees.”


“Proposes to introduce a change to the regular roster or ordinary hours of work of employees.”

Essentially this clause requires Essential Energy to advise relevant employees about major change once a decision has been made and that the company is required to “give prompt and genuine consideration to matters raised about the change by relevant employees”.

In the event of any workplace change it will now be up to members to notify Essential Energy that they want the union involved in consultation as Essential Energy will no longer be required to notify the union but only affected employees.

Dispute Settlement Procedure.

The Dispute Settlement procedure will continue to cover all disputes arising out of the employer-employee relationship – this essentially means that the DSP will apply to all workplace disputes moving forward as has done in the past.

The Dispute Settlement Procedure included in the Workplace Determination retains a limited status-quo provision, however unions must now apply to the Fair Work Commission for Status Quo to apply which will be time limited and applied on a case by case basis.

The DSP Clause remains largely unchanged from the existing agreement with the exception of how Status Quo will apply.

Redundancy Provisions.

The ETU forcefully put our views in relation to the retention of no forced redundancy, despite this the Fair Work Commission in the Workplace Determination has included provisions for involuntary (forced) redundancy.

The provision determined by the Fair Work Commission, despite protests from your union, allows Essential Energy to make up to 600 roles forcibly redundant over the course of the agreement which will expire on 30 June 2018, after which point there is no cap.

Importantly, and against the unions’ submissions, the Fair Work Commission has ruled that any Voluntary Redundancy and Mix & Match WILL NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS CAP, additionally current re-deployees will also not form part of this cap however current re-deployees will be entitled to participate in the “early retirement” option as outlined below, something that Essential Energy management argued strongly against.

The redundancy provision included in the Workplace Determination will provide employees holding positions that are determined redundant with the option to accept and an “early retirement” payment of 20 weeks’ pay plus their redundancy payment calculated using the all-purpose rate (Essential Energy wanted base pay to form this calculation) and years of service capped at 52 weeks (ie maximum of 72 weeks’ pay).

The Workplace Determination indicates that the 600 cap relates to “roles” and not “people”. The focus will be on how Essential Energy attempt to interpret the definition of roles.

The case fought by the ETU has exposed plans of Essential Energy management to reduce their current workforce from 3,200 to 1,600 by 2019. Essential Energy lawyers, on behalf of management, attempted to keep this plan secret by application to Fair Work which was rejected.

The ETU can only assume that management and the NSW Liberal/National Government wanted to keep this secret so no one would question how they intend to deliver a safe and reliable regional electricity network into the future. This is another example of how management and the NSW Government have deceived employees.

Outsourcing Provision.

Essential Energy have indicated that they intend to “re-shape” their workforce through the use of outsourcing in order to cut current staff numbers from 3,200 to 1,600 by 2019. Under the provision handed down by the Fair Work Commission, Essential Energy will be permitted to engage contractors where peak workloads cannot be met by the Essential Energy workforce or where specific expertise is not available in the Essential Energy workforce.

If contractors are to be considered, Essential Energy must “test the market” and provide assistance to employees to prepare an Expression of Interest or tender.  The Contracting out clause will be subject to the Dispute Settlement Procedure and the ETU will continue to fight to ensure work is kept in-house.

The outsourcing provision remains largely unchanged but is a long way from what the company wanted which was open slather contracting out of existing jobs.


There is no doubt that the outcome of the Fair Work Commissions workplace determination will have long lasting impacts for dedicated and loyal Essential Energy workers and the ETU will continue to represent members and fight for the best possible outcomes for each individual member.

The workplace determination has bought to a head the long running dispute between Essential Energy, their employees and their unions. The ETU is today calling on the NSW National Party to intervene and stop any job losses – a test for the new National Party Leader, John Barilaro.

The ETU will be holding a telephone townhall with delegates on Friday, and Organisers will be visiting depots and making themselves available to members to discuss the outcome and the process moving forward.

Both the company and unions must now accept the Fair Work Commission outcome and make application for a new agreement within three days after which the Workplace Determination will come into force by way of a new workplace agreement including the terms set out in the determination. This process should be completed in the coming weeks.

Throughout this dispute and over the past two years ETU members have been unbelievable in their solidarity, mateship and general support of each other and while we face difficult times ahead I ask all members to look out for each other and to contact the union with any concerns you have.

We will continue to stand up for you and take the fight forward into the future both in the workplace and politically in order to make the best of this outcome.

A full copy of the Decision will be available once a corrected version is issued by the Fair Work Commission.

In Unity,
Steve Butler

ETU Ready to Fight for Ausgrid Members.

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dear Colleague.

As you are aware the new owners of Ausgrid, Australian Super and IFM Investors (Industry Super Funds), are due to take over the management of the company in the coming weeks. The ETU is aware that the new owners are preparing to conduct a companywide roadshow to “sell” themselves to staff.

Don’t believe the spin, members should take this opportunity to pressure the new owners to commit to job protections covered by legislation through an ongoing commitment to no forced redundancy.

Unions, and Super Funds backed by union members, continually advocate for a different style of management, one of inclusion, respect and mutual benefits and this change in ownership presents an opportunity for Australian Super and IFM Investors to demonstrate their commitment to these principles.

The ETU is ready to negotiate and cooperate providing the interest of the workforce is acknowledged and secured. At the same time the ETU is ready to fight, regardless of who the owner is, to secure the intent of the job protection legislation through an enforceable agreement of no forced redundancy for the life of any new agreement. Your union is ready to launch a campaign if the new owners intend to deliver something different, a campaign that will involve high profile media, social media, political and grass roots activities.

Finally, I remind members that we have available to us a range of industrial action that we will draw upon if necessary however in the first instance we are prepared to negotiate in good faith to secure the outcome that Ausgrid workers deserve.

Your interest is our business and we will do whatever it takes to secure the best possible outcome.

In unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary

PS The new management company Ausgrid Pty Ltd was registered on 20 October and their Board was subsequently announced with directors: Ashley Barker, Hugh Gleeson, Peter McGarry, Michael Hanna, Cath Bowtell, Jason Peasley and Prosper Sebafundi.

Essential Energy Decision within Two Weeks.

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Fair Work Commission is continuing their work on the Essential Energy workplace determination and have advised lawyers representing the combined unions that they expect to hand down a decision in two weeks’ time.

Without speculating we do not know exactly what will be in the Fair Work Commissions final workplace determination however it is fair to say that there will be some elements that are not favourable and some elements that we can work with.

Be under no illusion, had Essential Energy’s agreement cancellation case proceeded we would be in a much worse position and it is likely that, while there will be some difficult elements of the workplace determination, it should be better than any offer made by Essential Energy during negotiations.

As soon as the union has the full details of the workplace determination and we are permitted by the Fair Work Commission to communicate this detail we will be in contact with members. I have asked organisers to be on hand to answer questions and enquiries from members and to schedule depot visits following the release of the Fair Work Commission determination.

In the meantime, Justin Page has taken over from Neville Betts in the role of coordinating the ETU at Essential Energy and Justin’s can be contacted on justinp@etunsw.asn.au or 0414 877 301.

Yours in unity
Steve Butler

Endeavour Energy Update - ELA Dispute

Paul Lister - Friday, November 04, 2016

On the 25th July 2016, the ETU and Endeavour Energy were back at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) continuing discussions as per the decision of the Full Bench of FWC. At this hearing it was agreed to identify all employees who currently receive ELA into 3 categories.

Categories are as follows;

  1. Grandfathered Employees,
  2. Employees required by the regulatory regime to carry out their duties, and
  3. Employees who potentially do not fall into the above 2 categories.

On the 17th October 2016, Endeavour Energy sent correspondence to FWC and the ETU in relation to the above.  This correspondence identified how many employees are currently receiving ELA and outlined the methodology Endeavour used to establish and quantify employees into the above mention 3 categories, ie;

  1. Total receiving ELA = 466
  2. Category 1 – Grandfathered Employees = 319
  3. Category 2 – Required by the regulatory regime =  21
  4. Category 3 – Others = 118

Last Wednesday 2nd Nov, 2016, Endeavour Energy and the ETU were back in FWC providing a report back to FWC and discussing the above mentioned correspondence.  At this conference Endeavour Energy confirmed details around the 3 categories, such as;

  1. Cat 1 – Would retain the ELA while they remain in their current role,
  2. Cat 2 – Would retain the ELA due to their job requirements, and
  3. Cat 3 – Potentially could lose the payment of ELA.  This will be subject to further discussions between the Company and the ETU in the near future. The discussions will be based around if anyone identified in Category 3 should be re-evaluated into Category 1 or 2. These would need to be evidence based discussions.

I will keep you informed as further information comes to hand.

Yours in unity
Brad Currey

Endeavour Energy Update - 3 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 03, 2016

Impact of Endeavour Energy’s EBA (Package) Offer

Dear Members,

In brief, please see below the proper interpretation and impact of Endeavour Energy’s recent EBA Offer;

Job Security

  • Attacks on consultation clauses - NO more consultation just “Presentation and Implementing”.
  • Inability to dispute decisions of the Company if the Consultation Clause is agreed to.  You will be forced to accept all decisions as a rule.  We will not just ‘Grin and bear it’!
  • Substantially weaker Contracting Out/Labour Hire Clause – taking into account the impact of the above 2 dot points.
  • Job Security gone with forced redundancies able to be implemented at the whim of EnE;
    • Current VR Package NOT guaranteed – at discretion of Endeavour Energy.
    • NO job security once in Redeployment and a substantial reduction in Redundancy Packages under an Involuntary Redundancy:
      • MAXIMUM of 26 weeks (Notice Period) in Redeployment.  Which is included as part of the total 78 weeks capped payout, regardless of years of service if you are a long serving employee.
      • Effectively the involuntary redundancy payout is capped at 52 weeks (26 + 52 = 78wks).
    • No tax benefit on the “26 week Notice Period” component of the Redundancy Payout.


  • This will affect EVERYONE – office and field workers alike.  You can be FORCED OUT! And you can expect the MINIMUM entitlements. We cannot normalise INSTABILITY in the workforce.
  • Uncertainty around your shift start and finish times – Company can change with a weeks’ notice.


  • Make no mistake – this is a serious threat to your way of life:
    • If you have family responsibilities - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!
    • If you have careers responsibilities - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!
    • If you value stability in your day to day life - YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED!

Wage Increase (a one-off 2.5% increase to the Base Hourly Rate)

  • 64% of employees under the EBA (who receive ESRA) will get an increase in their gross income of next to nothing with the removal of this allowance being paid as an “All Purpose” Allowance;
    • Based on a Linesman Grade 5 Current Wage Rate - Approx. $6.91 (gross) increase in your weekly wage (Excluding Super)
  • A Minimum Loss of $15,000 on Super Payouts for Defined Benefits Members with Full Points and 30 Year.

 Loss of $120 a Week when on Annual Leave, and
 Loss of $120 a Week when On Long Service Leave, and
 Loss of $26 a day On Sick Leave -  8hr Worker, and
 Loss of $26 a day if on Jury Duty -  8hr Worker, and
 Loss of $26 when on a REC Day or Public Holiday, and
 Loss of $6.66 an hour on double time overtime or $4.99 for time & half.
 Loss potentially for Apprentices on Leave of over 15% of their pay.

Even without these financial losses EnE are trying to buy your right to job security and workplace stability!

Other Conditions of Employment

  • You will no longer get the hours component on “Travelling on OT”.
  • For staff who receive ESRA, loss to your Current Entitlements of $3.33 an hour for every hour of leave in your leave balance (1000hrs= $3330).
  • Attack on the Long Serving Loyal Employees who are entitle to “Maturing Allowance”;
    • Freeze the entitlement to all (approx. 25% of EBA staff), and;
    • if you are over 55 years of age, then your frozen amount will not increase in value by CPI, unlike someone under 55 years of age – BLATANT DISCRIMINATION.
    • If you are under 55 years of age, you have NO ability to cash out…
  • CIC Shift Allowance - this should have been adjusted/rectified in the Agreement before the current EBA (As Per “Network Shiftwork Arrangements”).


Unions NSW Workers Comp Rally - Friday 4 November

Paul Lister - Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Unions NSW will be holding a lunchtime Workers Compensation rally outside NSW Parliament on 4 November 2016 at 12:30pm

The rally coincides with public hearings for the first review of the 2012 workers compensation changes.

Unions NSW has made an extensive submission to the Law and Justice Committee painting a horrifying picture of the scale of the devastation wreaked by the changes to workers compensation: from suicides to soup kitchens and everything in between.

At the rally on 4 November 2016 we will be hearing from injured workers and highlighting the harsh impact of the 2012 changes on the injured workers of NSW and their families.

There will also be regional events:

Wollongong - 31 October 2016
Orange - 2 November 2016
Newcastle - 3 November; and
A date for an event in Lismore is being finalised.

By keeping the pressure on the Government about workers comp we have won significant changes including more than doubling the medical cap and reducing the threshold for lifetime cover among other changes. This rally is an important part of our plan to keep winning improvements to the scheme.

Sydney Event Details:
Outside NSW Parliament, Macquarie St Sydney
12:30pm on Friday 4 November 2016