Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

AUSGRID’S $6 PER HOUR OFFSHORE JOBS

Peter Moss - Thursday, August 31, 2017

AUSGRID’S $6 PER HOUR OFFSHORE JOBS

CONTRACTOR TCS ACCUSED OF VISA RORTS, WAGE THEFT & DISCRIMINATION ACROSS FOUR CONTINENTS

Indian workers set to take over up to 35 skilled Ausgrid jobs will be paid around $6 per hour.

An ETU investigation reveals Ausgrid’s contractor Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) faces allegations of wage theft, visa rorts, mass sackings and discrimination in Australia, North America, the UK and India.

Ausgrid is part-owned by Australian Super and IFM Investors, a consortium of industry superannuation funds.

Here is some background on the giant Indian company now in bed with Ausgrid:

AUSTRALIA: TCS ACCUSED OF RORTING 457 VISAS

One of India's largest IT companies has been accused of misusing 457 visas to bring foreign workers into Australia.

Employees of TCS say the company relies on foreign workers, even in areas where there are no skills shortages.

"I was never asked to advertise for any Australians when developers were required," one worker said. "We just contacted the local area manager and he would send a developer on the next plane from Mumbai."

Click Here to Read the News Report.

US: TCS PAYS US$29.75 MILLION IN WAGE THEFT CLASS ACTION

Tata Consultancy Services agreed to pay $29.75 million to settle a class-action law suit in the United States.

Former employees had accused TCS in 2006 of forcing all non-U.S.-citizen workers to sign over their U.S. federal and state tax refund cheques to the company. Tata also deducted their Indian wages from their compensation, the suit alleged.

Click Here to Read the News Report.

US: TCS ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATING AGAINST LOCALS

The lawsuit claims the India-based Tata has a "grossly disproportionate workforce," with 95 percent of the 14,000 Tata U.S. workers to be South Asian or of South Asia descent.

Plaintiff Steven Heldt, who worked almost two years at Tata, blames the discrimination on the extensive hiring of H-1B workers – foreign nationals who are hired on a visa (equivalent to Australian 457).

Click Here to Read the News Report.

US/INDIA: TCS ACCUSED OF EXPLOITATION, UNDERPAYMENT, INTIMIDATION

Global giants Tata Consultancy Services made workers sign restrictive employment agreements before they leave India for the US, according to interviews and company documents.

Kaushik says Tata contracted him out to work 14-hour days without overtime pay as a computer programmer for Carnival Cruise Lines in South Florida.

“I worked from 9am to 11pm almost every night and never got paid overtime,” Kaushik said. “I thought, ‘Why am I working with this company?’”.

Click Here to Read the News Report. 

US: TCS FINED US$940 MILION FOR RIPPING OFF TRADE SECRETS & SOFTWARE

A US grand jury has slapped Tata Consultancy Service with a US$940 million fine in a trade secret lawsuit filed against them. 

Epic Systems had accused TCS of “brazenly stealing trade secrets, confidential information, documents and data”.

Click Here to Read the News Report.

CANADA: TCS ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LOCALS IN FAVOUR OF CHEAP LABOUR

A former TCS manager said the company rarely hires skilled, experienced Canadians.

"I wanted to hire Canadians, but I was told no," said the former manager. "I had to hire Indian people [as temporary foreign workers], and they didn’t have the skills."

Click Here to Read the News Report.

UK: TCS ACCUSED OF VISA RORTS AND MASSIVE UNDERPAYMENTS

Major union GMB alleged that TCS was "in breach of immigration rules by paying workers as little as 10,000 British pound per annum, when Home Office rules require a minimum yearly wage of 24,800 British pound”.

Click Here to Read the News Report.

INDIA: IT WORKERS AFRAID TO JOIN UNIONS

There is a fear among the employees to join a union and displease the management.

Click Here to read the News Report.

INDIA: IT WORKERS AND UNIONS FIGHT MASS SACKINGS BY TCS

13 disputes over forced resignations and  layoffs at IT organizations have been moved to the labor courts after failed mediation attempts by state labor authorities.

Click Here to Read the News Report.

 

ETU & USU FORCED TO LIFT BAN ON MEMBERS TRAINING CONTRACTORS

Paul Lister - Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yesterday the ETU and USU were forced into the Fair Work Commission over the ban on training contractors, including Indian company Tata Consultancy Services. Deputy President Sams made it exceedingly clear that he believed our actions constituted industrial action and therefore we must lift the ban.

Under the circumstances the Unions had no choice but to lift these work bans or risk facing binding orders and potentially fines.

This is another clear example of how current workplace laws are broken. The Fair Work Act prevents workers and their unions from protecting skilled local jobs. The Act does not allow people to follow their conscience.

The lifting of the bans is not the end of this issue. We continue to fight for these jobs to stay in Australia - just as we fight to protect as many jobs as possible throughout Ausgrid.

The Unions continue to lobby Ausgrid’s owners - Australian Super, IFM Investors and the NSW Government - to ensure that there is no off-shoring or contracting out of local Ausgrid jobs.

JOB SECURITY

Ausgrid’s decision to off-shore these jobs has driven home the need to fight for stronger job security clauses in the EBA.  We are arguing strongly for a cap on the number of redundancies post-2020, when the current employment guarantees expire, as well as a contracting out clause that ensures our members are not undermined by cheap alternatives.

These two issues are fast becoming the sticking point in your EBA negotiations. I have no doubt that Ausgrid will not agree to protect jobs and maintain conditions without a concerted push from the membership.

Stay tuned as the next few weeks will tell us exactly what management’s plans are. This will determine the scale of the campaign we run moving forward.

In Unity,

Dave McKinley
ETU SECRETARY

Ausgrid EBA & Job Reduction Update

Paul Lister - Friday, August 11, 2017

EBA Negotiations

Ausgrid continue to consider their position with a view to putting a firm documented proposal to the unions - sometime towards the end of this month or early September. We will obviously reserve our judgement until we see that document and will always be willing to negotiate. Having said that we are increasingly becoming pessimistic of the possibility of an amicable outcome given Ausgrid’s position of wanting to increase job insecurity by insisting on unlimited forced redundancies and the ability to contract out work at lower rates of pay and conditions.

Once we have received Ausgrid’s position on the Agreement we will report back to delegates and decide on how to move forward with the matter - one way or another.

Ausgrid’s ongoing program of job cuts

As reported last time, Ausgrid have consulted on the axing of some 236 jobs on top of the thousands they have already axed over recent years and intend to consult on an extra 60 on top (i.e. 300 FTE all up). As a result of several disputes lodged by the union the following results were achieved.

  1. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) mapping section: an alternative proposal was put by members and delegates which would have seen job cuts reduced from 23 down to 15. Ausgrid did not accept the proposal but agreed to a transition period of 6 months whereby a number of staff would be kept on to oversee the transition to a contracting out model of data recording. Ausgrid have undertaken to review the numbers if the projected assumptions underlying the model turned out to be inaccurate.
  2. Asset access: Discussions are continuing around a dedicated monitoring and rescue based model (previously just monitoring) whereby the previous numbers of 23 would be retained and possibly expanded on. The new model improves productivity by using Asset Access as a professional rescue service and teaming up with region staff to provide monitoring where Asset Access staff are not available for monitoring.
  3. Contact Centre: This area remains in dispute as Ausgrid have attempted to shut down an administrative centre (Sydney Contact Centre) and re-advertise positions in Newcastle effectively giving no viable opportunity for the Sydney based Customer Service Representatives and Team Leaders other than redeployment on a lower income.
  4. Administration/Clerical: The USU and ETU have participated in the job evaluation for these roles and whilst the points value of the new roles was revised upwards it was not enough to result in an upward revision from Admin / Clerical 7 to 8. Note that Ausgrid have confirmed that salary maintenance of all current grade 8 people who subsequently land a role will be maintained.
  5. Arborists: The ETU is in discussions with Ausgrid management regarding Ausgrid’s decision to axe one of the three arborists roles. These roles oversee contract tree trimming activities and in our view, are already stretched to the limit over the full Ausgrid franchise area and this is a completely unwarranted cut.
  6. Trainer/Assessors: The ETU has this matter in dispute because of Ausgrid’s attempt to devalue the Network Operators Training / Assessor role by about $20,000.00.

I will be off work from Friday 11th August returning Monday 11th September. In my absence Anthony O’Sullivan will be performing my role. I would ask all delegates to support Anthony and give him every assistance in carrying out the role.

Anthony can be contacted on the following: 0467 565 902 and anthonyo@etunsw.asn.au