Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

EBA Meeting Wednesday 17 October Update

Paul Lister - Friday, October 20, 2017

On Wednesday the negotiating committee met with Ausgrid management to continue negotiations on the Ausgrid Agreement. Most of the meeting was occupied with Ausgrid providing dollar amounts attached to their proposed Career Capability and Remuneration scheme. We will shortly be providing detailed individual examples of why this scheme will result in pay and career paths being shut down.

It is important that members understand how this scheme works and why Ausgrid are so desperate to implement it – because it will save them millions of dollars on their wage bill going forward. Under the current skills progression scheme employees can progress up a career path so long as they provide evidence that they:

  • have the skill.
  • Ausgrid needs the skill and
  • use the skill.

Points are allocated to each skill as they are attained, and progression is based on provision of that evidence. Ausgrid do not like this scheme because they say it results in a level of progression which is too automatic – in other words it costs them too much to pay everyone what they’re worth.

Under the proposed Ausgrid scheme you will no longer proceed up your career path based on evidence but on managerial discretion. If you are a Line worker or Jointer or Subs fitter and you could have reasonably expected to progress up to a certain level in your structure by gaining skills, now you will be expected to use those skills and perform the higher-grade duties with no extra pay. If your manager decides that this “exceeds expectations” then they may grant you some extra pay points along the way – but they don’t have to. Then when you apply for a vacant role via the normal merit appointment process you will be appointed at the new level pay point of that role which in most circumstances is significantly less than the current value of those roles. For some classifications for example - the top of the structure - will drop by $20,000.00

Ausgrid are saying is that they are going to save a huge bucket of money over the life of the agreement by supressing your career paths and in return you’ll get a few crumbs – if your manager says you can have them!

At the same EBA meeting the combined unions also asked Ausgrid what their position on a cap on forced redundancies is and Ausgrid’s response was to say that they had not considered the cap. In other words, they came back to the meeting with nothing. Ask yourself why would Ausgrid not agree to a cap on how many people they can force out the door after July 2020? The only conclusion one can come to is that they want to sack everyone.  Currently they can’t do that because the current agreement contains no forced redundancies and we will not negotiate a new agreement that does not include a cap which is necessary to provide job security for you.

In a bid to progress negotiations - the combined unions suggested that we present a package of 4 contentious clauses which have previously been identified as road blocks by Ausgrid for them to respond;

  1. Forced Redundancy provision with an annual cap – (Ausgrid concession needed)
  2. Tightened up contracting out clause – (Ausgrid concession needed)
  3. Modified consultation clause (Union concession needed).
  4. Modified Dispute settlement clause (Union concession needed).

This package will be presented at the next EBA meeting on Wednesday 25th October. We are doing everything in our power to get a negotiated outcome but Ausgrid are making this much more difficult than it needs to be by demanding concessions and taking from workers while not giving anything back.

In the meantime, the unions will be applying to the Fair Work Commission early next week for the right to ballot our members to take industrial action – this is in line with last week’s delegates resolution.

I will shortly be touring depots and updating members on these matters. It is important that members remember that we only get decent outcomes when we are prepared to stand up for our fair share and fight. We will always talk to Ausgrid but there comes a time when we need action, now is that time.

Lets not forget that between 2014-16 Ausgrid executive’s received an increase averaging 5.33% while everyone else’s real wages went backwards. You deserve an unconditional annual wage increase and 3% is very reasonable.

In Unity,
MARK BUTTIGIEG
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

Long Service Leave Accrual Dispute - We Won!

Paul Lister - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The ETU has secured a big win for Endeavour Energy members relating to Long Service Leave accruals and how they are paid after ETU Member Nick McWhirter (Snr) stood up with the support of the union against Endeavour Energy.

The dispute centered around Long Service Leave entitlements and accruals where employee's change their working hours - ie moving from a 36hr/wk to 40hr/wk in Nick's case.

This dispute commenced in May last year and was subject to a number of meetings with the Company, Fair Work Commission Conciliation conferences, Fair Work Commission Arbitration Hearing (where the decision went against Nick & the ETU) and a Fair Work Commission Appeal before a Full Bench of 3 Commissioners…where Nick and the ETU team were successful. This is a big win and a precedent setting decision as a result of ETU action.

The dispute centered around the members Long Service Leave entitlement being identified and recorded in “Hours” which didn’t equate to his entitlement of “Weeks” he had accrued in accordance with the EBA for his “Years of Service”.  This meant the member was being short changed his Long Service Leave entitlement worth approximately $9,500.00.

The Company has recorded the LSL entitlement the member had accrued while working a 36hr/wk arrangement, recorded in “Hours” not “Weeks”, and never adjusted the accrual for this period to accord with the remainder of his current “Years of Service” under a 40hr/wk arrangement.

In practical terms this meant that the member would be paid for taking his Long Service based on his current 40hr/wk wage (which is appropriate), however, because the LSL entitlement was being recorded in “Hours” not “Weeks”, and was never adjusted for his current 40hr/wk working arrangements, meant his recorded LSL would run out before his LSL entitlement accrual in “Weeks” was used (or paid out if he had left the Company) thus short changing his entitlement.

In short, in the Appeal we were able to demonstrate an error of the Commission’s Arbitration Decision regarding the interpretation of the Long Service Leave provisions in the EBA.

The Fair Work Commission Full Bench ordered (or words to the effect)

  1. The Appeal be upheld.
  2. The previous Arbitration decision be quashed, and
  3. The payment for the 36hr/wk period is to be paid at the current applicable weekly rate of pay (this being a 40 hour week).

Check your LSL Accrued Entitlement

To all members who have changed their ordinary hours of work/week you might want to check your LSL entitlement.  This can be done by dividing the LSL “Hours” recorded on your pay slip by your ordinary hours of work each week. This will identify your recorded LSL entitlement in “Weeks”. Then establish your actual LSL entitlement in “Weeks” from Clause 15 of the EBA and see if they are the same (if you have taken any Long Service Leave remember to deduct that amount).

If there is a difference, then you may wish to discuss this with your local Delegate, contact the ETU, or myself, to assist in resolving the anomaly.

In Unity
Brad Currey
Organiser

Ausgrid EBA Reportback 16 October

Peter Moss - Monday, October 16, 2017

Endeavour Energy Team Ready to Bargain

Peter Moss - Monday, October 16, 2017
Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement covering 1,200 Endeavour Energy workers are off and running.

ETU members aim to:
* Boost job security
* Maintain existing employment conditions
* Achieve reasonable wage rises.



Our mighty Negotiating Team includes: Chris Tyrrell, Noel Mahon, Jareth Woosley, Nathan Gale, Brad Rossitor, Nick McWhirter, Ellen McNally, Dave Campbell, Tony McCarthy and Troy Fewings.

Go team!

ETU Delegates Vote Unanimously to Apply for Protected Industrial Action

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yesterday the combined unions delegates met to discuss Ausgrid’s proposed Agreement. See the next page for a detailed summary. We have been negotiating with Ausgrid under the new owners for nine months, on top of the two years prior to that with the previous owners. Instead of progressing in the negotiations we have gone backwards.

Ausgrid employees have conceded:

  • A 4-year wage freeze
  • A forced redundancy policy post-June 2020 with a cap
  • The loss of almost 2,000 jobs over five years. We are doing much more work with fewer people
  • Many conditions stripped including take-home vehicles, on-site gyms and taxis for shift workers.

Management has given nothing and wants:

  • To severely limit and weaken Consultation and Dispute Settlement clauses which were largely off the table six months ago
  • A token wage rise with no backpay -- conditional on acceptance of a severely limited career path
  • Reduction of your capacity to take Annual and Long Service leave at half pay
  • To switch you to a fortnightly pay cycle
  • To reduce the number of occasions you can take sick leave without a certificate from seven down to four
  • To direct when you can take your RDOs.

Delegates clearly told us at the meeting that our members believe enough is enough and things must be brought to a head. The time for talking is not yet over, but it is now time for action. The meeting unanimously voted to empower the negotiating committee to finalise a list of protected industrial actions which were discussed in detail at the meeting. Preparation of an application to the Fair Work Commission will now proceed that basis. This is the first step we need to take to gain authorisation from the FWC to conduct a ballot of members for protected (legal) industrial action. We will keep you informed on the progress of that application.

Ausgrid is desperate to put a positive spin on their proposed agreement that would, if implemented, result in the total destruction of job security, wholesale contracting out, loss of career progression, loss of any meaningful consultation or disputation rights -- all for a small wage rise. Let management know what you think of this offer – so the company understands we will not accept going backwards.

The table below details the major deficiencies with the offer identified by the delegates, and the impediments to a negotiated outcome.