The time has come to vote on the offer put forward by Ausgrid.
I want to say from the outset that the ETU negotiating team has done an outstanding job to get to the position we are in. The negotiations have been long and arduous and your committee has met every challenge thrown up at them in a highly professional manner.
Four years ago we were fighting to ensure that Government did not gain the ability to decimate the workforce down to unparalleled levels and strip away long held conditions such as the 15% super. The agreement that you are to vote on goes nowhere near what has been long threatened and in fact enhances some of your current conditions.
This EBA provides wage increases of 7.5%, which is close to what other states have delivered under friendly Labor Government's. In addition to the annual pay increases the proposed agreement also provides a one off payment of $1,600 per employee which represents an additional 1% to 2% in year 1 depending on each individuals salary. The Agreement locks in no forced redundancies until June 2020 and then caps future potential redundancy beyond the expiry date of the agreement. There are changes to the agreement, such as fortnightly pay, sick leave occasions without certificates and leave at half pay, the ETU does not and has never supported these items and your negotiating committee have fought to have them excluded from the final document however Ausgrid management have refused to take these items out. Never the less I believe that the agreement is the best that is achievable through the negotiation process and without a protracted industrial campaign.
All in all this agreement leaves members in a position where we have retained superior wages and conditions to other distribution companies around the country whilst ensuring that possible redundancies beyond the expiry of this agreement are kept to a minimum.
The following motion was passed at today’s delegates meeting, that sets out our position over the coming few days.
“This delegates meeting notes the majority support indicated by members for the proposed Ausgrid agreement. Accordingly the combined union delegates endorse the proposed agreement being put to a formal vote. In the event that the agreement is voted down the Union will notify of our intention to take protected industrial action. If the agreement is accepted it will be sent to the Fair work Commission for certification.”
Unfortunately I am unable to attend the Newcastle vote but I will address the Sydney meeting.