Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Fair Work to determine scope of Essential Energy medical assessments

Peter Moss - Thursday, September 14, 2017
The Work Capacity Assessment Procedure is still in dispute. The ETU strongly advises that in the interim, members should hold off attending any medical assessment.

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.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary
ETU NSW

Endeavour Energy New EBA Negotiations Update

Paul Lister - Friday, September 08, 2017

Dear Members,

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,
Brad Currey
Organiser

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

EBA Negotiations delayed as Ausgrid rejects proposed job security clauses

Paul Lister - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

There has been a delay in EBA negotiations as Ausgrid are yet to put their position on a number of key areas that the unions have identified below. Ausgrid have told us that they do not expect to present a position on these matters until the next scheduled meeting on 2 August 2017. The combined unions negotiating committee have maintained the following position in terms of each of these items as follows;

  • Potential incentive payment for redeployees; Ausgrid have yet to present their position on a proposition for an incentive payment that we put when Ausgrid stated that they were having trouble exiting redeployees from the business. We have also given Ausgrid an alternative to an incentive payment which is to find redeployees jobs within the business instead of paying contractors to do their work plus paying our members to sit in redeployment. It doesn’t seem like a very smart business model to have people sitting in redeployment until June 2020 when you could be utilising them productively. One would have thought the new owners would be driven by basic business sense and not the mindless ideology of the previous owners but Ausgrid’s actions in this area suggest otherwise.
  • Response to the ETU proposition on a contracting out clause which recognises that Ausgrid should consider only contractors with like rates of pay and conditions to Ausgrid Agreement employees; We will not have our members exposed to a race to the bottom on wages and conditions. The contracting out clause we have proposed is common across several electricity supply agreements that were used as exemplars in the AER benchmarking process. These types of clauses prevent employers cynically using contactors as a method for undercutting their permanent internal employees and making them redundant. Ausgrid have indicated that they will reject such a clause which presents a major sticking point in an Agreement being reached for us. This is particularly concerning when coupled with Ausgrid’s position in item 3. below.
  • A limit on the numbers of any post June 2020 (end of job guarantee) forced redundancies; Ausgrid have indicated that they do not accept a limit on forced redundancies after the job guarantees expire on 1 July 2020. We have said that such a limit is non-negotiable and that by indicating they want unlimited forced redundancies after June 2020 flags their likely intentions with regards to outsourcing remaining work and instituting more mass job slashing.

There are other significant areas of disagreement but the three above remain major sticking points. We will update members after the next schedule EBA meeting on 2 August 2017.

Ausgrid continues to destroy jobs.

Ausgrid have now largely completed consultation on the axing of another 236 jobs on top of the thousands they have already axed over recent years – this excludes an extra 60 on top they are yet to consult us on (i.e. 300 FTE all up). Not content with the previous owner’s decimation of jobs they want to extract even more blood. The ETU (supported by the combined unions) placed the whole matter in dispute because of several inadequacies in the process including;

  • No data on final job reductions by classification and location,
  • No due process afforded in accordance with the Agreement in respect of job evaluations and
  • lack of dialogue with union officials on final numbers post employee proposals.

Since notification of the dispute Ausgrid have now provided the job cuts data and undertaken to formally abide by the joint union / management panel process for job evaluation as specified in the Ausgrid Agreement. As a result of the dispute, discussions are occurring on outstanding issues and final numbers in the following areas.

  • GIS (Geographical Information Systems) mapping section; is in dispute due to the consultation process, job evaluation and final numbers.
  • Field Services and in particular Asset access; consultation is on-going on final configuration and numbers as the ETU had placed the matter in dispute based on our view that the Ausgrid proposal would not have adequately catered for a rescue function which we believe is necessary to safeguard the welfare of our members entering confined spaces.
  • Contact Centre; In dispute as a result of Ausgrid targeting the Sydney contact centre based on work location and employment status as shift workers.
  • Administration / Clerical; In dispute because of job evaluation’s not being completed with Ausgrid proposing to downgrade many Admin grade 8’s to 7 and question marks over salary maintenance.

The ETU are in ongoing discussions over these matters and will update members as progress is made. If members are being interviewed for reform affected roles that would have an impact on opportunities in other potentially reform affected areas that are in dispute then please notify your delegate or myself ASAP. If members in any other areas have concerns arising from this process which I have not addressed above please contact your delegate or myself.

In Unity,
 
MARK BUTTIGIEG   
0417 208 447 /
markb@etunsw.asn.au

Medical assessment dispute continues as Revision 2 fails to address key issues

Peter Moss - Monday, July 17, 2017

The Work Capacity Assessment Procedure is still in dispute. The ETU strongly advises that in the interim, members should hold off attending any medical assessment.

In the Fair Work hearing on 16th May 2017, Essential Energy and their Lawyers adamantly argued in front of DP Sams that they have not threatened or disciplined any employee for refusing to attend a Work Capacity Assessment appointment.

On the 20th June 2017 the ETU wrote to Essential Energy requesting specific wording changes within the Procedure. Essential responded with another revised Procedure on 30th June 2017 which again failed to address the key issues the ETU has identified. Namely-

1)    Restrict the scope of employees to Live Line & Heavy Vehicle employees which under statutory requirements, Work Capacity Assessments must be carried.

2)    Where an employee is deemed “Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”, the ETU requested the employee be placed in a suitable alternate role. Essential failed to address this and their revised Procedure shows their true intent. It states that if an employees is deemed “Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”, they will be placed on Personal leave. It also now states “Essential Energy may terminate the employee’s employment in accordance with the industrial instrument in place at the time”.

3)    The Procedure document is still deficient in ensuring that employee’s personal medical history details and specific outcomes of the Assessment are kept confidential and not disclosed to Essential.

4)    The ETU sought improved wording around workers compensation, assessments to occur in paid time & document control but Essential failed to address these concerns.

Have you given Essential consent to obtain private medical history?

Employees who have already completed and signed the Essential Energy Work Capacity Assessment Musculoskeletal and Functional Assessment forms have given Essential Energy consent to obtain your private medical information through the your treating Doctor’s and other Health Practitioners.

Essential have now changed the forms, but members who have already signed a form should contact your Organiser ASAP and the ETU will provide you with instructions on how to revoke that consent to ensure Essential cannot access your private medical history.

The ETU has advised Essential that the matter remains in dispute and the Union intends to relist the matter before DP Sams.

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.      

Justin Page

Assistant Secretary

ETU NSW

Medical Assessments Notice No4 - Essential Fails to Address the ETU’s Key Issues.

Paul Lister - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Work Capacity Assessment Procedure is still in dispute. The ETU strongly advises that in the interim, members should hold off attending any medical assessment. If you are threatened with discipline, inform the person threatening you that you are exercising your legal right to be represented by your Union and contact your local delegate or Organiser immediately.

In the Fair Work hearing on 16th May 2017, Essential Energy and their Lawyers adamantly argued in front of DP Sams that they have not threatened or disciplined any employee for refusing to attend a Work Capacity Assessment appointment.

Last week Essential provided a revised Procedure to the ETU. The revised Procedure fails to restrict the scope of employees to Live Line & Heavy Vehicle employees which under statutory requirements, Work Capacity Assessments must be carried.

Essential also failed to adequately address what happens if an employee is deemed “Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”.

The ETU has advised Essential that the matter remains in dispute and the Union intends to relist the matter before DP Sams.

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.     

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary

Removal of ETU Safety Ban - Towing Jinker Trailers with Borer Cranes.

Paul Lister - Friday, June 09, 2017

In response to the Safety Ban the ETU issued on Wednesday 7th June 2017, Essential Energy yesterday made Application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop unprotected industrial action. Essential alleged the ETU Safety Ban on towing jinker trailers was illegal industrial action. The matter was heard today before Deputy President Sams.

Essential Energy agreed to withdraw their application following agreement on the following process to be followed by employees-

“Consistent with Essential Energy’s standard practice, should any crane operator have a concern regarding the weight of any crane borer in terms of its registration compliance, the following steps are to apply:

  1. Notify your immediate supervisor regarding your concerns and provide details of the total load for that particular vehicle;
  2. Arrange to have the vehicle weighed for compliance at a certified weighbridge;
  3. Once completed, provide the weighbridge certificate to your supervisor.

Should the relevant compliance weight limit be exceeded at the weighbridge, you should take immediate action to reduce the total weight to within the registration compliance limitations.  Should this not be possible, notify your immediate supervisor who will arrange appropriate remedial action for the vehicle.  Vehicles are not to be driven unless they meet RMS compliance.

The ETU agrees that this is an appropriate process for ensuring RMS compliance for our heavy fleet operators.  The ETU agrees to immediately withdraw all notices in relation to this matter and work will continue as normal”.

On the basis of this agreed process, the ETU withdraws its Safety Ban and strongly encourages all heavy vehicle drivers to follow the above process to ensure RMS compliance is met.

Members must understand that as the operator of the heavy vehicle, by law both you and your employer have the obligation for ensuring that the vehicle is operated within the weight and load limits imposed by the Heavy Vehicle National Laws Act of NSW and you cannot be directed to work in an unlawful manner.

If you are unaware of the current actual weight of the vehicle and have concerns please ensure you follow the steps outlined in the above process and put it over an accredited weigh bridge.  If you ordinarily tow a jinker/pole trailer with this vehicle, this test should be conducted both with and also without the loaded trailer attached.

Essential Energy has communicated directly to all drivers and Supervisors of the impacted Ozzy Crane Borers, ensuring that they are aware that they are not to tow jinker trailers behind these vehicles until further notice. All impacted Ozzy Crane Borers have also been fitted with a Danger Tag to prevent the unintentional use of these machines to tow a jinker trailer.

If you need any advice as to your obligations under the NSW heavy vehicle laws, please contact your immediate Supervisor, the RMS directly or contact the Union for further assistance.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary
ETU NSW

ETU Safety Ban: Don't tow Jinker trailers with any Borer Crane

Peter Moss - Thursday, June 08, 2017

Members are advised there are Safety Bans on towing Jinker trailers with any Borer Crane. It has been found that mass limits on the axle capacity have been exceeded on Borer Cranes when Jinker trailers are being towed.

Background.

On Thursday 1st June 2017 a Total Safe was lodged when a Borer Truck fitted with an Ozzy Crane went overweight on the front axles when it was placed on a weigh bridge. Other Ozzy Borer Cranes towing jinker trailers have gone overweight on the rear axle when placed on a weigh bridge. Since Friday last week the ETU has requested that Essential Energy issue a Safety Alert notifying employees but they refuse to do so.

Essential Energy today conceded that the mass limit stipulated by the RMS on the axle groups for the registration category have been exceeded on Ozzy Borers. The ETU is of the view that employees are unable to determine if vehicles are within mass limits when Jinker trailer and poles are being towed with any Borer Crane without putting them over a weigh bridge.

As part of holding a Heavy Vehicle license, it is the operator’s responsibility to make sure these limits are not exceeded. The penalty for overloading a vehicle may exceed $2200 for an individual.  Members are advised not to put themselves or others at risk, or risk being fined by driving any heavy vehicle where you are unable to determine the weight of the load and if it is within mass limits.

The ETU is of the opinion that Essential has failed in their safety obligations to properly notify employees of the potential safety issues by driving overweight heavy vehicles and to implement a safe system of work. As a result the ETU has been left no option but to put this safety ban in place.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary