Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Essential Energy Protected Action Ballot Update

Paul Lister - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Below you will find a combined union EBA update for Essential Energy. Also listed below is a notice to ETU members regarding the Protected Action Ballot providing an update and also outlining some developments from this week including an Order issued by the Fair Work Commission.

Combine Union EBA Update.

ETU Notice to Members Protected Action Ballot update.

Vote "Yes" to Essential Energy Protected Action Ballot

Bruce Fan - Friday, September 27, 2013

Essential Energy has written to all employees encouraging them to vote “NO” in the Protected Action Ballot.

The ETU believes this not to be in your best interests and encourages you to vote “YES”.

Prior to any industrial action being taken, there will be discussions between the union and ETU delegates involved.

Any questions in relation to this please contact your local delegate or ETU organisers.

Essential Energy EBA negotiations, update

Bruce Fan - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Essential Energy EBA negotiations update.

The ETU has been negotiating with Essential Energy for a replacement agreement since 9 April 2013. There have been 6 meetings over 10 days as follows; 9/4, 14/5, 15/5, 4/6, 5/6, 3/7, 4/7, 31/7, 1/8 & 4/9.

  • Essential Energy received the Union log of claims on the 9th of April 2013 and the ETU have continued to explain that log of claims at every meeting. Management have deliberately frustrated the negotiations at every opportunity by saying that they don’t understand what the Union is seeking.
  • Essential Energy made a decision to try and remove 242 employees from the agreement and place them on individual contracts, which would remove employment protections. This is now in the courts and Essential management have had it listed for a hearing date in November 2013 and it probably will not be decided until March 2014. The agreement must have a clause that tells the court who is covered by the agreement and Essential Energy management will only put in a clause that removes the 242 employees they want to exclude. Without an agreed SCOPE clause there can be no agreement.
  • Essential Energy has offered a 2.7% increase each year for two years that includes the absorption of the 0.25% superannuation guarantee increase. So your super would stay at 15%, this is in line with the accepted offer at Ausgrid and Endeavour. They have agreed to the language in the agreement including a new consultation clause, work practice change / development Clause, dispute resolution clause and a new domestic violence clause. (same as Endeavour and Ausgrid).
  • Essential Energy has not agreed on an acceptable redundancy redeployment clause/ provision. (there was agreement with Endeavour Energy “redundancy 2 weeks uncapped and extra 2 or 1 week per year of service depending on service, uncapped”  and “Ausgrid, at 3 weeks per year of service uncapped”.
  • Essential Energy would not agree on an acceptable contracting out clause. The Union sought to strengthen this clause due to the huge amount of work that Essential Energy is seeking to contract out.
  • Essential Energy wants to remove the leading hand clause and amend the living away from home clause to take away the opportunity to nominate the payment of an allowance but have management cover costs via credit card.
  • Essential Energy will not agree to increase the following allowances ESRA, LAFA, Electricians License, First Aid, On Call etc.
  • The offer was made to the Unions on the basis of “take it or leave it” and if it is accepted, INCLUDING THE QUESTION ABOUT EXCLUDING 242 EMPLOYEES, then they would pay back pay.
  • The threat is if it is not accepted then it would not be back paid and any new agreement would begin when it was registered and would go for 2 years from that date.
  • Management would not agree for all delegates to meet and consider the offer.

 

  • In summary Essential Energy has not agreed to the following;
    • Coverage of the agreement. EE are attempting to remove 242 workers who are currently covered by the agreement.
    • Outsourcing & contracting out clause. The union is seeking to strengthen this clause due to management seeking to increase  contracting out of members jobs.
    • Redundancy. Essential Energy management are refusing to include a redundancy clause in the agreement. The union is seeking a clause to ensure that redundancy payments are consistent with the industry as EE (2 weeks per year of service  capped at 52 weeks)is less than both Endeavour (2 weeks per year of service uncapped)  & Ausgrid (3 weeks per year of service un capped).
    • On Call Allowance. The union is seeking increase in on call allowance in line with the industry. EE pays $30 per week less than endeavour & $65 per week less than Ausgrid.
    • Allowance increases. Both Endeavour & Ausgrid agreed to increase all allowances except ESRA. Essential demand no increase to all allowances.
    • Permanent Leading Hands. The union is seeking to return to leading hands be made a permanent position. Endeavour & Ausgrid have permanent leading hands.
  • The negotiating committee rejected the offer from Essential Energy and advised that we would be making application for Protected Action Ballot Orders. The ETU negotiating committee includes 11 delegates.

Protected action ballot application successful

On 18th September 2013, the Unions were successful in getting the Protected Action Ballot Orders, the protected action sought is:

Stoppages of work

  1. Stoppages of work for a 1 hour period?
  2. Stoppages of work for 2 hour periods?
  3. Stoppages of work for 4 hour periods?
  4. Stoppages of work for 6 hour periods?
  5. Stoppages of work for 12 hour periods?
  6. Stoppages of work for 24 hour periods?
  7. Stoppages of work for 48 hour periods?
  8. Stoppages of work for 72 hour periods?

Strikes

  1. Strikes for a period of one week?
  2. Indefinite strikes?

Bans

Indefinite or periodic bans on one or more of the following:

  1. Overtime
  2. Standby
  3. Callouts
  4. Afternoon shifts
  5. Project Work
  6. Issuing Notices
  7. Testing provided this does not affect public health
  8. The training of agency staff
  9. The performing of work outside of the usual work area or location
  10. All on the job training
  11. Participation in Competency Programs
  12. Completing specific processes, paperwork, approvals or reports
  13. Using or taking home Essential Energy keys, swipecards and/or buzzers
  14. The use of technology such as mobile phones and FRMs afterhours
  15. Assisting or communication with contractors
  16. The use of computers
  17. Starting on job sites
  18. Undertaking stand-by
  19. Working non-rostered overtime
  20. Working overtime in geographical areas not covered by the current agreement
  21. Conducting planned or unplanned periodic maintenance

Changes to the Performance of Work

  1. Commencement of work from the depot and return to the depot for lunch?
  2. Speaking to members of the public at the commencement of any incoming telephone calls to Essential Energy about the reason for the industrial action?

Members would have to vote for each of the list of actions mentioned in 1,2,3 and 4. Either yes or no.

Where to from here (unless late changes by the AEC)

  • By 23rd September the Unions and Essential Energy(ALL UNIONS HAVE NOW RECEIVED CONFORMATION FROM A NUMBER OF MEMBERS, WHO ESSENTIAL ENERGY ARE ATTEMPTING TO REMOVE FROM THE AGREEMENT, THAT THEY HAVE NOT HAD THEIR DETAILS SUPPLIED TO THE AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND IN ESSENCE ARE HAVING THEIR BASIC RIGHT TO VOTE FRUSTRATED BY THEIR EMPOLYER.)  must supply a list of members / employees to the Australian Electoral Commission. On 23rd September the Australian Electoral Commission arranges with the employer to place notice to employees in prominent locations at workplaces. On 24th and 25th September the AEC prepares the ballot papers and on 26th the AEC posts the ballot papers to members’ homes. Between 27th September and 16th October ballot papers are returned to the AEC by members in the reply paid envelopes supplied.
  • The ballot closes on 17th October and the votes are counted and the results declared as soon as practicable.
  • If the ballot is successful then the Union has to give seven days’ notice of the timing and type of industrial action that will be taken. This protected period is good as long as you vote “YES” to each of the 4 questions proposed.
  • The action can continue as long as the two sides remain in a situation where agreement cannot be reached and the protected action requirements continue to have been met.
  • Management can make an application to lock all members out from the workplace for a specific time.
  • If the ballot is unsuccessful then there are usually brief discussions where management determine what the proposal will look like and that proposal will go to members for a vote. 

ETU OFFICIALS WILL BE IN CONTACT WITH DELEGATES OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. 

Essential Energy EBA Update: Working Away From Home

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The ETU has totally rejected Essential Energy’s attack on members who have to work away from home.

Your management have sought to reduce your current conditions & rights identified in the current Enterprise Agreement.

Management are attempting to remove your current option to choose to receive “a lump sum amount for accommodation, meals & incidentals paid beforehand as per table 1 of the Australian Tax office Reasonable Amounts Determination.”

This would create significant restriction of flexibility for members to be able to choose appropriate accommodation on many factors not limited to;

  • Proximity to food and beverage.
  • Noise and location of lodging.
  • Choice of quality of room;

The ETU has continued & will continue to argue to retain the choice as it currently stands.

Update on Essential Energy Fatality 2nd September 2013

Bruce Fan - Monday, September 23, 2013

The Electrical Trades Union has called for an urgent meeting with Workcover to discuss the fatal electrical incident that occurred at Essential Energy on the 2nd September 2013.

The ETU has concerns about the Distribution Industry implementing different approaches in relation to work on the dropping out, running and tensioning of conductors around other live conductors and the possibility that there is indirect pressure on employees to work in a manner that may end up in further electrical incidents.

The ETU has a primary focus in relation to this matter and that is to ensure that members are able to work in a safe and effective manner without fear of suffering a possible fatal electrical shock or suffering retribution from the boss if they insist that any proposed work is unsafe.

The ETU wants to see an agreed method of completing this work.

The ETU Safety Ban still remains in place.

The ETU wants to be able to understand managements logic in insisting that this type of work is conducted around other live mains.

So far they have not convinced the ETU’s membership. 

The ETU can confirm that an urgent meeting has been convened with Workcover on the 1st October 2013 to discuss this critical issue.  

There will be further updates as they come to hand.

ETU Automated External Defibrillators Report

Bruce Fan - Monday, September 16, 2013

The ETU NSW Branch have had the McKell institute write a report on the need for defibrillators on live electrical worksites (actually worksites in general) also included is a list on commonly asked questions.

The paper was written as a result of our 2013 conference discussion to campaign for Defibs. The ETU believes the report is comprehensive and argues a very strong case for the provision of defibrillators.

The paper is available to download below,

1. Common Questions About Automated External Defibrillators(AEDs)

2. AEDs on Australian worksites

ActewAGL Safety Alert

Paul Lister - Friday, September 06, 2013

Following the fatality of an Essential Energy worker on Monday 2 September, ActewAGL has issued the following Safety Alert:

ActewAGL Safety Alert Re-stringing, Re-tensioning Conductors

Members should read the above safety notice however the union reminds all members that we have issued a uniform Safety Ban for ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members across all electricity distributors.

ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
 
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
 
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

 
If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.

Ausgrid & Endeavour Energy Safety Alerts

Paul Lister - Thursday, September 05, 2013

Following the fatality of an Essential Energy worker on Monday 2 September, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy have issued the following Safety Alerts:

Ausgrid Safety Alert 13-14_007 OH Conductors

Endeavour Energy Safety Alert 33/13 Temporary Suspension, Bare OH Conductors

Members should read the above safety notices however the union reminds all members that we have issued a uniform Safety Ban for ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members across all electricity distributors.

ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
 
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
 
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

 
If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.

ETU Safety Ban

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

As a result of the fatal electrical incident at Essential Energy on the 2nd September 2013, ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
 
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
 
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

 
If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.

Essential Energy Fatality - Update

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Following is an update following yesterday’s fatality at Essential Energy. Members are advised that the worker was a 47 year old father of three from the Bulahdelah depot. A husband and colleague that set off to work in the morning and never came home.
 
It would appear that an out of service conductor became energized whilst the employee was assisting with it's removal. An energized HV circuit was located above the out of service conductor being worked on.
 
As advised in our previous safety alert there will be several investigations into this incident before we know exactly what went wrong. Essential Energy and WorkCover are both currently investigating this incident however it is also possible that this incident will be investigated by the Police or Coroner.
 
Your union has written to Vince Graham seeking answers to a list of questions that we have relating to this incident and we would expect that this matter get his full attention as a matter of urgency.
 
The ETU will also be redoubling our efforts to have Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) rolled out across our workplaces to ensure that if something does go horribly wrong then you have the best possible chance at surviving to see your family again.
 
If you have any questions in relation to this notice please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser. It is important that we all look out for each other because if we don’t look out for each other no one will.
 
The ETU has issued a Safety Ban to all members and we request that you observe these restrictions for your own safety.