Electricity, Water and Utilities

ESSENTIAL ENERGY REJECT UNION OFFER TO RESOLVE OUTSTANDING ISSUES

Following a phone hook up with the Essential Energy ETU negotiating delegates last Friday, I wrote to Gary Humphries regarding a prospect raised by the Fair Work Commissions’ Vice President Hatcher for consent arbitration on outstanding and non-agreed matters that currently exist between Essential Energy and the unions.  This course of action was endorsed by the ETU negotiating delegates.

Earlier this week the union received a reply from Gary Humphries which expressed his desire to continue with the company’s application to cancel your agreement.

It would appear that Essential Energy have a clear agenda, one to continue their attacks on your job security and conditions.

The ETU and other unions, with the support of members sought to resolve this dispute and secure an agreement by allowing the independent umpire – the Fair Work Commission – to determine the remaining outstanding matters.

Gary Humphries and Essential Energy have rejected this good will gesture and in doing so have revealed that rather than reach agreement they are prepared to spend taxpayers money attacking their loyal employees who have put up with too much for too long.

Even though the company’s response was negative, I met with Gary Humphries on Wednesday the 27the April at the ETU offices in Sydney to see if we could narrow down the areas of disagreement in relation to the Essential Energy enterprise agreement.

The discussions ranged around the areas that we have seen as barring a way forward on an outcome, there was no agreement on a way forward but there were frank discussions that I believe, if confirmed by Essential Energy, would enable us to quickly progress our negotiations.  

Unfortunately Gary Humphries hasn’t responded to the ETU in the timeframe he agreed to.      

Friends, we are left with no option but to escalate our dispute with your employer. On Tuesday I spoke to ETU Essential Energy delegates from across the state that have now provided feedback that members in depots across NSW support stepping up our protected industrial action in order to increase pressure on the company.

ETU delegates and members from across the state have indicated high levels of support for a 24hr stoppage in May in an effort to secure an agreement acceptable to members. There is the real chance that the strike action will have to further escalate if there is no resolution.

I accept that this is drastic action, but the alternative – to sit back and allow ETU members and their jobs to be attacked – is simply unacceptable.

The combined unions have put forward significant proposals, including non-voluntary redundancies, and have now offered to allow the independent umpire to arbitrate an outcome but your employer has chosen to go to war with you rather than reach agreement.

We will continue to communicate on developments. If you have any questions, please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

In unity
 
Steve Butler
Secretary

Ausgrid Update - 22 April 2016

Posted on 22-4-2016

Dear Colleague,                                                                                        

Ausgrid sell off – ETU request for consultation.

ETU Secretary Steve Butler wrote to Ausgrid CEO Trevor Armstrong on the 30th March requesting a thorough consultation process in accordance with the provisions of your agreement. After much delay and procrastination Ausgrid have finally agreed to the following;

  1. At the union’s request, on Wednesday 20th Ausgrid have published an updated list of questions and answers on the sale and an invitation to ask any further questions on the sale. Members should therefore direct all further questions to Ausgrid so that we will have an up to date list of questions and answers ready for the mass delegates meeting on the 27th April.
  2. On Wednesday 27th April a full delegates meeting will be held for all delegates to attend and discuss the sale transaction. Ausgrid were invited to address the meeting but Mr. Armstrong responded that Ausgrid management had “no desire” to do so.
  3. The combined unions will then provide any further questions in writing prior to a meeting of officials and delegates representatives with management which will occur on the 2nd May.

Enterprise Agreement Negotiations.

Steve Butler also wrote to Trevor Armstrong on the 30th March regarding the progress or lack thereof, on the Agreement negotiations. Steve sought to understand the organization’s position with respect to how the employment guarantees, which form part of the NSW Electricity Sales Act legislation, affect the Agreement negotiations. It is clear from the response that Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers had control of his pen.

On the point of the affect of the legislation on the negotiations Mr. Armstrong’s answer was to assert that the legislated guarantees had nothing to do with the negotiations and was a matter for our lawyers. Ausgrid also denied that the main driver for the negotiation has been the AER determination and say that the ETU have refused to change our position. As members well know this is an utter lie.

The ETU have corresponded with Ausgrid several times on our preparedness to discuss involuntary redundancy including conditions, which to date they have rejected. It appears Ausgrid have simply deferred to their Treasury masters and lawyers who now run the place. Their position is simply to get Ausgrid off the government books ASAP and let a private operator deal with it. Notwithstanding this ongoing farce, Ausgrid have agreed to reconvene enterprise bargaining meetings on the 4th May and 18th May with another full delegates meeting in between on the 11th May.

The schedule below summarises the series of meetings to deal with the two issues of the sales transaction and the EBA.

Schedule for consultation on Sale transaction and EBA Negotiations

DATE

ACTION

Now

Ausgrid to conduct an open Q & A on the implications of the Sale Transaction. This can include a compilation of Q & A’s on the matter to date but to also include a refreshed Q & A from staff which will be consolidated in to an updated Q & A record for presentation to staff and the unions prior to the mass delegates meeting on the 27th April.

Wednesday 27th April. Silverwater.  10am – 1pm

Mass Delegates meeting to discuss the outcomes of the above Q &A. Further questions / issues to be fed back to Ausgrid after this meeting.

Monday 2nd May 2016. HOB
10am-12pm.

Meeting between Ausgrid CEO / Management, ETU Officials and delegates to discuss the implications of the sale transaction in light of the Q & A and the delegates meeting. Further consultation may be required pending this meeting.

Wednesday 4th May. HOB
10am-12pm

First EBA meeting to discuss Ausgrid’s latest response to ETU propositions.

Wednesday 11th May. Silverwater
10am-1pm

Mass Delegates meeting to discuss latest EBA update and any offer from Ausgrid if applicable.

Wednesday 18th May. HOB
10am-12pm

Second EBA meeting to discuss progress.

All delegates attending the mass delegates meeting should do so using special leave. If you have any further questions please contact either of us.

In Unity - Mark Buttigieg and Justin Page.

The CEPU (ETU), on behalf of our members, recently applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for protected industrial action. Following the application, a ballot of CEPU members at Essential Energy was conducted in which 95% of those that voted supported industrial action.

Last week CEPU/ETU Secretary, Steve Butler, held a phone hook up with CEPU/ETU delegates from Essential Energy who endorsed the union to notify Essential Energy of CEPU members intention to take industrial action.

CEPU/ETU delegates approved industrial action including a four-hour stoppage along with other work bans including not completing paperwork, and not assisting or communicating with contractors. This approved action has been split into two periods – one covering the northern half of the state and one covering the southern half of the state.

Industrial action has been structured this way in order to mitigate safety/emergency response concerns. Members should return to their depot for the duration of the work stoppage. We expect Essential Energy management will attempt to suspend or stop this industrial action through the courts.

THE CEPU NOTIFIED ESSENTIAL ENERGY LAST NIGHT OF THE INTENTION OF CEPU MEMBERS IN THE SPECIFIED LOCATIONS TO TAKE SPECIFIED INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT SPECIFIED TIMES.

Full details of this industrial action is outlined below. ONLY MEMBERS OF THE CEPU MAY PARTICIPATE IN THIS INDUSTRIAL ACTION. Any employee who participates and is not a member of the CEPU will be at risk of taking unprotected industrial action – you should consult your bargaining representative.

ALL CEPU MEMBERS SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE INDUSTRIAL ACTION SCHEDULED IN ORDER TO APPLY PRESSURE TO ESSENTIAL ENERGY IN AN ATTEMPT TO SECURE A FAIR AGREEMENT OUTCOME THAT PROTECTS CONDITIONS, SECURES JOBS AND PROVIDES A FAIR PAY INCREASE. 

NORTHERN NSW INDUSTRIAL ACTION.

TYPE OF ACTION: 4 HOUR STOPPAGE OF WORK
DATE/TIMES:  THURSDAY 14 APRIL, 2016 / BETWEEN 9AM – 1PM

TYPE OF ACTION: BAN ON COMPLETING PAPERWORK
DATE/TIMES:  9AM THURSDAY 14 APRIL UNTIL 9AM FRIDAY 15 APRIL

TYPE OF ACTION: BAN ON ASSISTING OR COMMUNICATING WITH CONTRACTORS
DATE/TIMES:  9AM THURSDAY 14 APRIL UNTIL 9AM FRIDAY 15 APRIL

LOCATIONS COVERED: 
Field Service Centres and other administrative/office based centres including the control
room located at Armidale, Ballina, Barraba, Bourke, Brewarrina, Bulahdelah, Casino, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Dorrigo, Dubbo, Dunedoo, Dungog, Ewingsdale, Forster, Gilgandra, Glen Innes, Gloucester, Goodiwindi, Grafton, Gunnedah, Guyra, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Maclean, Moree, Mudgee, Murwillumbah, Nambucca Heads, Narrabri, Narromine, Nyngan, Port Macquarie, Quirindi, Stroud, Tamworth, Taree, Tenterfield, Texas, Tweed Heads, Walcha, Walgett, Warialda, Warren and Wellington.

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS:
Notwithstanding the above CEPU members will be at their Field Service Centres during the stoppage and will, if requested, make themselves available for emergency response work during the period of stoppage.

SOUTHERN NSW INDUSTRIAL ACTION.

TYPE OF ACTION: 4 HOUR STOPPAGE OF WORK
DATE/TIMES:  WEDNESDAY 20 APRIL, 2016 / BETWEEN 9AM – 1PM

TYPE OF ACTION: BAN ON COMPLETING PAPERWORK
DATE/TIMES:  9AM WEDNESDAY 20 APRIL UNTIL 9AM THURSDAY 21 APRIL

TYPE OF ACTION: BAN ON ASSISTING OR COMMUNICATING WITH CONTRACTORS
DATE/TIMES:  9AM WEDNESDAY 20 APRIL UNTIL 9AM THURSDAY 21 APRIL

LOCATIONS COVERED: 
Field Service Centres and other administrative/office based centres including the control room located at Albury, Balranaid, Barham, Bathurst, Bega, Berrigan, Blayney, Bombala, Boorowa, Braidwood, Broken Hill, Buronga, Canowindra, Condobolin, Coolamon, Cooma, Cootamundra, Corowa, Cowra, Crookwell, Culcairn, Darlington Point, Deniliquin, Forbes, Goulburn, Grenfell, Griffith, Gundagai, Harden, Hay, Hillston, Jerilderie, Jindabyne, Junee, Lake Cargelligo, Leeton, Lockhart, Menindee, Moama, Molong, Moruya, Moulamein, Narrandera, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Peak Hill, Queanbeyan, Temora, Tooleybuc, Tottenham, Trundle, Tumbarumba, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, West Wyalong, Wilcannia, Yass, Young.

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS:
Notwithstanding the above CEPU members will be at their Field Service Centres during the stoppage and will, if requested, make themselves available for emergency response work during the period of stoppage.

Ausgrid Update - 1 April 2016

Posted on 01-4-2016

AER Consultative Committee consultation timetable and associated committees.

Despite the recent decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) to set aside the AER determination, Ausgrid continue to insist that they still need to cut another 400 to 500 jobs as part of their phase 2 response to the AER determination. As reported in previous notices a dispute was lodged by the ETU on Ausgrid’s proposed timetable for consultation. A Fair Work hearing was held in which SDP Hamberger set down a timetable within which the parties agreed to consult. Accordingly AER Consultative Sub-Committees have now been set up in each of Ausgrid’s business areas where there are proposed job cuts and / or efficiency proposals. Below is a list of the subcommittees to date;

Committee

Program Manager

Power Line Inspection

Murray Chandler

Street Lighting

Murray Chandler

Metering

Brett Hooper

GIS

Brett Hooper

Network Services

Craig Hersant /Jeff Barnsley / Steve Taylor

Blended Delivery Major Projects

Brett Hooper

Admin Review

Jacquie Brothers

Network Services Productivity

Mick Tyler

Network Services Rebalancing

Craig Hersant

These committees comprise members, delegates and should also allow for facilitation of meetings between delegates and the broader member population to update members and gain their feedback. If members have any questions regarding the process or the committees, they should contact their workplace delegates in the first instance and their organiser’s if delegates are unable to answer the questions.

If there are any delegates and members who have not been nominated and wish to participate in the committees please email either Mark Buttigieg (Sydney / Central Coast) or Justin Page (Hunter) with the nominations. Members and delegates on these committees should by now have received meeting dates times and locations. If they have not, please contact the relevant Program Manager as listed above and get the detail. As was the case in Phase 1, the ETU is committed to consulting on Ausgrid’s proposal in a constructive way which maximizes job security via an exhaustive VR / mix and match program. In light of the ACT’s decision to set aside the AER determination we do however reserve our right to question the logic and implementation of such draconian job cuts which come on top of already deep cuts (>1000) over the past two years.

Ausgrid have continually justified the job cuts based on the original AER determination and now they continue to insist the job reduction numbers remain the same irrespective of the fact that the very determination they themselves legally challenged, is found to be flawed. This is not surprising for anyone who has been associated with the way this place has been run for the last 5 or so years but nevertheless it still shows how ideologically blinkered management have become.

ATO Ruling on Mix and Match tax treatment granted.

As many members would be aware Ausgrid’s previous tax exemption for those employees exiting on a Mix and Match based VR expired earlier this year. Ausgrid had applied for a new exemption and the the Australian Tax Office has now made a ruling in relation to Ausgrid’s 2016 application. The ETU understands that the ruling provides for a favourable treatment for those participating in the Ausgrid VR scheme and provides more flexibility in terms of knock on job movements through structures than the previous approval did. As always individuals should seek their own independent financial advice.

Members can view the full decision of the ATO here.

EBA Negotiations.

Negotiations remain in stalemate with Ausgrid seemingly disinterested in the ETU’s offer to discuss a way forward via a modified version of the VR policy. This initiative from the ETU to break the impasse involves instituting an enhanced package and full exhaustion of a mix and match program after which time a limited involuntary component could be implemented in the event that the enhanced package did not succeed in achieving a pre-agreed numbers of exits. Perhaps Ausgrid management are waiting to see whether their cousins at Essential Energy are successful in unilaterally cancelling their Agreement and placing our members on the basic power industry award or maybe they’re just waiting for the new owners to take the reins and put them out of their misery.  In any case the ETU are actively trying to give our members some direction and certainty, by attempting to address Ausgrid’s deal breaker issue of the redundancy policy. Whilst it appears Ausgrid have opted out of good faith negotiations we are always willing and available to progress the negotiations in the best interests of our members.

Rest assured that while we will do our utmost to negotiate a solid agreement in the interests of maximising job security, we will not be involved in an agreement which trades off previously hard won conditions. Any such negotiated proposal will of course always be put to all delegates and a vote of the mass membership before it can be ratified. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions or issues.

In Unity

Mark Buttigieg - markb@etunsw.asn.au / 0417 208 447

Justin Page - justinp@etunsw.asn.au / 0414 877 301