Electricity, Water and Utilities
Electricity, Water and Utilities
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.
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.
Ausgrid’s proposal is a gross insult. Here are the five key attacks on employees:
- Unlimited forced redundancies: Ausgrid would implement unlimited forced redundancies from June 2020 with a package inferior to the current VR package.
- Unlimited contracting out: No change to the current contracting out clause means Ausgrid can outsource your work to the lowest bidder.
- Changed dispute settlements: Ausgrid could implement change without having to put things on hold until a dispute is resolved with employees and their unions.
- Watered down consultation provisions: Ausgrid can just tick boxes and quickly change things without genuine consultation with employees and their unions.
- A below-inflation conditional wage rise with no back pay: 2.5% in year 1 and 2% in years 2, 3 & 4 but only if you accept their proposal for a Career, Capability and Remuneration (CCR) framework for which we haven’t even seen translation grades or pay points. In its current form, the CCR would see people progress to higher grades only if their manager likes them.
- Reduce your capacity to take Annual and Long Service Leave at half pay
- Switch you to a fortnightly pay cycle
- Reduce the number of occasions you can take sick leave without a certificate from seven down to four
- Direct when you can take your RDOs.
- An incentive payment for redeployees of $75K (unions suggested $180K)
- Improvements to parental leave, and
- Lactation breaks for mothers.
A 4-year wage freeze -- Mr. Gross, the Ausgrid Board and their superannuation fund owners IFM and Australian Super would never accept such a freeze on their own remuneration.We have conceded that Ausgrid can have a forced redundancy mechanism after June 2020, but not an unlimited one. It must have a credible cap so that Ausgrid cannot implement mass sackings.
Ausgrid clearly wants to take a lot but are willing to give very little.
We will continue to negotiate with Ausgrid but we are a long way apart. The company’s proposal as it stands is unacceptable to employees. There will be another EBA meeting on Monday 9 October and then a full paid delegates meeting on Wednesday 11 October to determine our next steps which may very well include industrial action. We will keep you informed every step of the way.
Over the past 6 to 8 weeks Ausgrid has cancelled and rescheduled several EBA meetings despite continual promises of a documented offer. When the EBA negotiating committee did finally meet on the 29th August the purpose was to introduce their new Ausgrid negotiating team headed up by John Stephens and Hannah McCaughey. For those of you who are not already aware John Stephens led the charge for the successful termination application of Queensland Freight Rail company Aurizon’s EBA’s which eventually resulted in a substandard agreement covering thousands of workers, being forced on rail employees by the FWC.
Under the previous negotiating team led by Trevor Armstrong we believed that some progress was being made towards a negotiated outcome.
The fact that Ausgrid risked sending such a deliberately provocative signal by appointing as their bargaining representative the IR Manager behind this landmark termination decision is revealing. The Aurizon decision is viewed throughout the union movement as symptomatic of the fundamental problem in today’s Australia. The rules are broken – the rules which reign over EBA negotiations in 2017 promote job insecurity, loss of conditions without a pay rise that comes even close to any real form of compensation.
When the ETU pressed this matter with the CEO Richard Gross, he maintains that Ausgrid “has no intention of pursuing a termination application”. We shall see if he keeps his word in due course.
Our view is that if Ausgrid present a document on 27th September it will still contain the two job destroying clauses that we are insisting need to be modified before we can reach agreement;
Unlimited forced redundancies from June 2020 onwards and
The current contracting out clause which allows Ausgrid to contract out work at much lower rates of pay and conditions – thereby undercutting our members job security.
We also believe Ausgrid will probably also re-introduce nasties that had been pretty much agreed on as being off the table a few months ago including the removal of status quo provisions during disputes and short-circuiting and watering down of consultation. We will obviously see how accurate these predictions are on the 27th September.
The message we are getting from members could not be clearer - negotiations have gone on for far too long and we have given enough.
In 2012 Ausgrid had some 6,000 employees – 5 years later that workforce has been slashed by about 30% to around 4,000. Our members have been subject to a 3-year wage freeze while Ausgrid executive salaries continue to rise unabated.
We have conceded to the company during the negotiations that they can have a forced redundancy mechanism post June 2020 - but that we want a cap on how many can be exited per annum and we don’t want them to have the ability to contract out our members work to the lowest bidder. Ausgrid’s response has been pretty much to the following effect;
“thanks for that we’ll take your concessions but not only are we not giving anything in return – we want more concessions including unlimited forced redundancies and the ability to contract out work on whatever rates of pay and conditions we want”.
Meanwhile Ausgrid continue to act like corporate renegades by offshoring GIS roles to India and getting rid of another 11 emergency contact centre roles by abolishing the Sydney contact centre.
The time is approaching for matters to come to a head. Once Ausgrid has presented their offer we will convene a meeting of the combined union delegates and based on the feedback from that meeting and the reaction to Ausgrid’s offer we will discuss our options under the Fair Work Act including taking protected industrial action.
The parties met a number of times and where back before DP Sams on 29th August 2017. The ETU had identified 11 changes we required to the Procedure. The parties were able to agree on 10 of those changes and they have been incorporated into the Procedure.
DP Sams will determine the outstanding issue of scope.
• The ETU’s position is the scope of employees to be assessed should be Live Line & Heavy Vehicle employees which under statutory requirements, Work Capacity Assessments must be carried.
• Essential’s position is any employee who works on or near the network.
During October both parties will make submissions to DP Sams who will then determine the scope to apply to the Procedure.
Improvements the ETU was able to make to the procedure include:
• An added step in the process where an employee is deemed “Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”. An assessment will be made of the employee’s capabilities and limitations. As part of this process Essential Energy will explore the possibility of a suitable alternate role. If no alternate role can be agreed, the employee will be put on Personal leave. Essential Energy may terminate the employee’s employment in accordance with the industrial instrument in place at the time.
• Improved the procedure to ensure employee’s personal medical history details and specific outcomes of the Assessment are kept confidential and not disclosed to Essential.
• Improved wording around workers compensation, payment & costs, assessments to occur in paid time & the dispute resolution process if an employee disputes the assessment outcome.
Have you given Essential consent to obtain private medical history?
Essential have now agreed to write to employees who have completed the wrong Essential Energy Work Capacity Assessment Musculoskeletal and Functional Assessment forms which has given Essential Energy consent to obtain your private medical information through the your treating Doctor’s and other Health Practitioners.
Those employees will then need to sign a new consent form which will revoke the consent to ensure Essential cannot access your private medical history.
Members are reminded you are legally entitled to have ETU Representation in any employment matter including investigations, performance matters, disciplinary matters, safety matters etc.
The ETU will keep members updated on this matters through our ETU workplace delegate’s network, Facebook and via the ETU website.
Yesterday the ETU and other Unions conducted a joint full delegates meeting at the Liverpool Catholic Club, Hoxton Park in preparation for the new round of EBA negotiations which will be commencing next Thursday 14th Sept 2017.
The purpose of this delegates meeting was to endorse our negotiating team and discuss/debate and endorse the new claims that your negotiating team will be focused on throughout these negotiations to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all members to vote on…(hopefully).
We will be discussing the new claims at the meeting next week with the Company’s new negotiating team. If you wish to discuss these claims please talk to your local delegate who attended yesterday’s delegates meeting. The claims will be distributed post our meeting next week.
Your elected ETU Bargaining reps for these negotiations are;
Noel Mahon, Technologist - Glendenning Depot
Ellen McNally, Call Centre - Springhill Depot
Nick McWhirter (Snr), Project/Contract Inspector - Huntingwood
Brad Rossitter, Live Linesmen - Shellharbour Depot
Chris Tyrrell, Transmission - Narellan Depot
Jareth Woosley, EFM - Bowenfels Depot
Tony McCarthy, EMSO - Penrith Depot
Troy Fewings, Manager/Specialist - Springhill Depot
David J Campbell, Ops Manager - Hoxton Park Depot
Nathan Gale, Systems Operation - Huntingwood
and the ETU.
Further updates will be forthcoming as information comes to light or the situation demands it.
Remember, your safety is paramount to you, your family and your work colleagues…DON’T cut corners…it’s not worth it !
Yours in unity,
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."
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.
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).
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?’”.
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”.
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."
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”.
INDIA: IT WORKERS AFRAID TO JOIN UNIONS
There is a fear among the employees to join a union and displease the management.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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- ETU Youth Meeting - June 14
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- Friable asbestos found at Hornsby depot
- CEPU Financial Accounts 2017
- Formal CCR consultation kicks off — 31 May deadline for review under skills-based system
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