Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Clarification: Essential Energy Redundancy Clause

Paul Lister - Friday, November 22, 2013

I would like to clarify the application of the redundancy clause in the draft agreement, & correct comments in the EBA update sent to delegates yesterday.

The redundancy policy referred to in the agreement, will be the policy for the full term of the agreement. This means that the management cannot reduce the provisions in the policy during the term of the agreement.

New clause
The new clause in the agreement does a number of things.

  • It has forced EE management to write a policy that can be seen by all.
  • It has forced EE management to lock in that policy for the term of the agreement.
  • This gives certainty to members as to the process having to be applied consistently.
  • It has forced the EE management to have to consult with unions on all redundancies.

You will see from the clause (seen below) that the policy for the term of the agreement is the policy as of 20 November 2013. You will also see that the application of the policy is subject to the consultation clause.

The effect is that the policy is locked in for the term of the agreement & the application of the policy has to be consulted. This means if there are any redundancies, the policy has to be applied & EE management must consult with unions when applying the policy. I bolded the important words in the clause.

The clause reads
The redundancy policy for the term of this Agreement is the Essential Energy Redundancy Policy (Management of Surplus Employees) dated 20 November 2013.

The application of this policy will be subject to clause 1.13 (Consultation and Communication) of the Essential Energy Enterprise Agreement.

In unity, Neville Betts

Essential Energy EA update 20 November

Paul Lister - Friday, November 22, 2013

Wednesday (20th November) saw two meetings regarding the EBA. The first meeting was a meeting of the combined unions negotiating group. The second meeting was a meeting of ETU delegates drawn from geographical locations across the state. Essential Energy management limited the number of delegates that they would release. There were a number of issues with cancelled flights that resulted in two delegates being unable to attend.

Union negotiating delegates meeting.

The first meeting discussions were assisted by retired Deputy President John Greyson. After discussion we then had EE COO Humphries & cronies discuss the matter with the negotiating committee. The negotiating delegates discussed all the facts, & after detailed & open discussion determined to recommend an agreement to the delegates attending the second meeting.

The negotiating delegates determined that mandatory elements of any agreement is to be based on three fundamental principles being;

  • Job security
  • No trade offs
  • Reasonable increase

Delegates Meeting.

As reported above, EE management restricted the number of delegates that they were willing to release & transport to Sydney was an issue for some. The Secretary determined that I then provide a shortened list of delegates for the meeting. I then identified delegates from various locations in an attempt to provide representation spread over the state.

32 delegates met & discussed the current position. We then invited Humphries to address the meeting. I was extremely proud of the delegates who made the feelings of the membership crystal clear to Humphries in a full & frank exchange.

Following Humphries & his cronies leaving the meeting delegates discussed & debated all matters at hand.

After detailed discussions & debate , the delegates determined that an agreement based on the following to be recommended to members;

  • That the matter of the scope argument be dealt with by arbitration (set to be heard on the 16th & 17th December) with the decision of Senior Deputy President Hamburger to be the determined scope with all parties bound by the decision with no appeal.
  • That the proposed agreement be based on the current (2011 Agreement).
  • That new clauses sought by the unions be included:
    • Outsourcing
    • Consultation
    • Work practices
    • Dispute Settlement procedures
    • Domestic Violence

These clauses are clauses that are from Endeavour or Ausgrid. The negotiating delegates identified these as improvements to the current agreement. This clearly is narrowing the differences between supply authorities in NSW & works towards or objectives of common EBA’s.

  • The inclusion of redundancy in the EBA. This will be in the form of a clause that refers to a policy as of yesterdays date and will remain the policy for the full term of the agreement. We argued for an increase in the entitlement, that has been rejected. Delegates determined that as we have no provision in the agreement & that by having this in the agreement it gives us opportunity to try to increase in the future. There is to also be a commitment to no forced redundancies that will assist in the identified objective of job security.
  • That members retain the right to choose payment option for those working away from home.
  • The increases be 2.7% from 1 July 2013 & 1 July 2014 & that should the federal government not provide a SGL superannuation increase in 2014 that the full 2.7 be paid.
  • That all allowances be increased by the wage increase %’s with the exclusion of ESRA & meal allowance during the day. The meal allowance during the day to be increased in accordance with the ATO determined figure.
  • Essential Energy write to unions to confirm their agreement to the matters above.
  • That a new draft agreement be written by EE to reflect the items above.
  • That The DRAFT agreement be completed by the decision of SDP Hamburger.

Clearly there is still some water to go under the bridge. Delegates determined that they felt the proposal, when reflected in a new draft agreement, should be recommended to members.

Obviously for any agreement to be finalised it will require a vote of employees.

This would take place following the resolution of the Scope arbitration which will determine the scope clause for any new agreement.

We also sought that The Union and EE agree to a general timetable of events so it can be communicated to members.

Delegates will receive a text for a hook up early next week.

In Unity, Neville Betts.

Ausgrid Denying Recognition of Prior Service for Voluntary Redundancies

Bruce Fan - Monday, November 18, 2013

In Ausgrid’s Electrical Trades Mix and Match Program Update, Issue 2- 6 November 2013, Ausgrid stated they are not going to recognise prior service from other NSW Government Departments to count towards the three weeks per year of service.

The ETU has been in discussion with Ausgrid for some time now and has consistently maintained that Ausgrid should recognise this prior service as they have in the past. Ausgrid concedes that prior service has applied in previous Voluntary Redundancies - as recently as 2005. Prior Service was recognised in those redundancies based on the principle that no previous redundancy was paid for the prior service and that continuity of employment would be recognised between these NSW Gov Departments so long as there was less than a 2 months break between taking up the new employment.
Members Who have expressed an interest in the current “Mix and Match” program and have had Prior Service with a NSW Authority listed in the attachment list: At the time you transferred from a NSW Government Authority you would have received a letter from Ausgrid / Energy Australia / Orion etc. acknowledging your transfer of employment”.

You need this Letter. If you do not have it in your personal files, you should approach Ausgrid to obtain it through their records in your personal history file.

Ausgrid intend to make offers of Voluntary Redundancies in the coming weeks. If you believe you are entitled to prior service, DO NOT sign any offer before contacting you organiser.

Essential Energy EA Update 13 November

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The unions and management attended a private meeting with Deputy President Hamberger on Monday to discuss a way to move negotiations forward. As a result of that meeting Vince Graham has written to the unions, in summary, with the following proposal:

  • The policy on redundancy will be referred to in the agreement.
  • That unions and management agree to refer the matter of scope to consent arbitration. Both parties agree to accept the outcome of the Fair Work Commission and waive any appeal rights.
  • That the unions commit to withdraw current protected action and waive their right to apply for future action.

The ETU’S response to Vince’s correspondence is as follows:

  • The unions will agree to the redundancy clause once the unions words are included in the draft agreement.
  • The unions agree to proceed to consent arbitration on the matter of scope and in doing so the unions commit to accepting the outcome handed down by the Commission.
  • The unions reserve our right to apply for protected industrial action under the current approved period of any future period that may be granted.
  • That a full delegates meeting be held at the ETU's office at 10am on Wednesday 20 November.
  • That agreement is conditional on the acceptance and approval by the full meeting of delegates.

We will keep members up to date with any further developments as they occur.

Essential Energy EA Update 6 November

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Your negotiating team, unions and Essential Energy met today however we have not yet reached a position close to agreement. A number of differences remain and these include:

  • Contracting out clause
  • Redundancy
  • Leading Hands/On Call issues, and
  • Scope

After consulting our legal team, the unions have proposed that the Scope issue be dealt with in the Fair Work Commission by way of a consent arbitration and that both parties should accept the decision of the court whatever that may be. The unions believe we have a strong argument and that we should let the court decide this matter.

On the other matters we have agreed to again meet with the company with the aim of reaching agreement on Monday next week, however should the company not be prepare to move on these matters that unions will be forced to consider what action may be necessary in order to achieve an acceptable outcome, this may include making application to the Fair Work Commission to recommence protected industrial action.

Negotiations continue to be slow and tedious but we will keep all members up to date on any developments.

Essential Energy EA update 1 November

Paul Lister - Friday, November 01, 2013

I am writing to provide an update on the status of EA negotiations with Essential Energy.

As you are aware the unions last week withdrew the planned protected industrial action for this week (we would have been on strike today if that notice had not been withdrawn) to enable the union to continue negotiations with the most senior Essential Energy bosses.

This was not an easy decision but necessary to continue to show our commitment to good faith negotiations.

Next week is critical in the negotiations and there is a fair amount going on, as follows;

  • Monday 4 November at 1030 the ETU is in court at the Fair Work Commission to extend our protected action period by a further 30 days. At present our protected action period would end on 15 November but with the extra 30 days this will take is up to 15 December.  Without the extra 30 days our last day to give notice of intention to take industrial action is Tuesday 5 November.
  • Monday 4 November Essential Energy to have the DRAFT document and the redundancy policy to the unions in the morning.
  • Monday 4 November the ETU lawyers and the Essential Energy lawyers are scheduled to meet to discuss options on the Scope argument at 2pm.
  • Monday 4 November the ETU and Vince Graham to meet at 3pm to review the Scope and the DRAFT document, including the union model clauses and the Redundancy Policy.
  • Tuesday 5 November all parties will further consider and review the DRAFT document and the positions on Scope (Good luck in the Melbourne Cup).
  • Tuesday 5 November the last day the Union can give formal notice of industrial action within the first 30 day period.
  • Wednesday 6 November the employee negotiating committee meets at the ETU offices in Sydney at 10am to see if there is any progress on the agreement.

The ETU will advise members of the progress of the negotiation and depending on what happens there will be communication with delegate’s on Tuesday 5 November at midday or Wednesday 6 November around 2pm. Delegate’s will be notified in the usual manner.

These negotiations are complex and have required the use of legal experts including barristers.  It makes you wonder how workplaces without Union representation would manage if the negotiations went as pear shaped as they have been at Essential Energy. Management would have ALL the power and the workers would suffer.

It’s a good reason to JOIN YOUR UNION.

Yours in Unity,
Steve Butler

Essential Energy EA Update 29 October

Paul Lister - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Unions met with Vince Graham today to try and get some sense into the negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement. There has been a fair bit of debate about how we might be able to finalise any agreement and a continuing frustration with management about progress.

As a result, the ETU has today made application to extend our period for protected industrial action by a further 30 days so we can ensure that, if necessary, we are able to take protected action if negotiations fail to deliver an acceptable outcome for members. The ETU believes all clauses must have legal standing and that in addition to Vince Graham’s correspondence of 24 October there must be appropriate protections in place.

The following has been identified as a possible way forward.

  • A combined meeting of the Unions and Essential Energy’s lawyers to review options in relation to Scope – possible outcomes may include:-
    • Essential to continue with the present application before the courts, which the unions will oppose.
    • A process where the parties request the courts to make a decision about Scope through consent arbitration.
    • A variation of the present agreement to include new agreed clauses/provisions that would leave the Scope issue “as is”.

The ETU will meet with our lawyers to determine what we believe is the best option for our members.

  • Management to provide a DRAFT document, with the previously agreed clauses included. This will be based on the 2011 agreement and will be provided to unions by Monday 4 November.
  • Management to provide a DRAFT redundancy policy, with the unions preferred model clauses included. This will also be provided to unions by Monday 4 November.
  • A meeting to take place with union representatives and Vince Graham on Monday 4 November to review the DRAFT document.
  • A meeting of the bargaining committee on Wednesday 6 November to review the DRAFT document.
  • Negotiations to continue to finalise the agreement, including the Scope issue, prior to a DRAFT Agreement being circulated for a vote.
  • Ex Deputy President Grayson to chair negotiating meetings to assist the parties in their deliberations.

The ETU remains cautious in relation to this process. We have advised management that we are seeking to reach a position that allows the document to go to a vote, however, the ETU continues to reserve our right to recommence protected industrial action if necessary.

There will be further updates for members in relation to these negotiations as they progress – these will all be available here on the ETU website. 

Essential Energy EA Industrial Update

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 24, 2013

Members are advised that following the ETU providing notification to Essential Energy of our intention to take industrial action (including returning to depots for lunch, not operating padlocks and work stoppages) the CEO of Network NSW, Vince Graham, has requested the union suspend this action in order to hold further negotiations.

Members can read Vince Grahams letter here where he outlines a number of proposals in order to try and reach agreement.

Following a meeting with your negotiation team today, the ETU has agreed to suspend all planned industrial action (including returning to depots for lunch, not operating padlocks and work stoppages) in order to allow further negotiations to occur.

Should these negotiations not be successful the ETU and our members reserve our right to lodge further notifications for future industrial action until such time as an acceptable outcome is achieved.

A meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday 29 October that will include Vince Graham and Gary Humphries.

We will keep members up to date on any developments and members should check the ETU website (Electricity, Water & Utilities section) on a regular basis for updates.

Vince Graham Suspends Drug Testing

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 24, 2013

The ETU has been advised that Ausgrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy have withdrawn their program of saliva based drug testing while another court case is undertaken by Endeavour Energy over a July 2013 notification from NATA in relation to accreditation.

The ETU remains convinced that the use of saliva testing is the most accurate and least invasive form of testing as previously determined by the Fair Work Commissions decision of 26th March 2012 and the subsequent rejection of the Endeavour Energy appeal to the Full Bench on the 14th August 2012.

All three organisations have taken the same approach but the ETU believe they are wrong and the Unions have assembled the same legal team who
were successful in the original decision and represented the Unions interests at the failed Endeavour Energy appeal.

The matter is listed for appearance before Fair Work in the week commencing 25th November 2013.

The ETU will keep members up to date on the progress of this case. Any questions can be directed to your workplace delegate or contact details for your organiser can be found here for Sydney, NewcastleWollongong and Canberra.

Essential Energy Protected Action

Paul Lister - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Essential Energy members are advised that notification has been given to Essential Energy for rolling stoppages covering Friday 1 November.

Please see below the official notification to Essential Energy that covers stoppages on Friday 1 November.

Further details relating this action will be forthcoming once finalised.

s414 notice - rolling stoppages Friday 1 November