Electricity, Water and Utilities

Fair Work Conciliation Hearing

Posted on 17-5-2017

On the 16th May the ETU’s dispute re Work Capacity Assessment Procedure was before DP Sams of the Fair Work Commission. Both sides argued their case if in fact effective consultation had occurred. DP Sams directed the parties to focus on the key issues of difference in relation to the Procedure.

The ETU outlined the following key issues-

  1. The scope of “employees who work on or near the network” is too broad. The Procedure should be restricted to Live Line & Heavy Vehicle employees as there are statutory requirements in place that Work Capacity Assessments must be carried out for these workers.
  2. The Procedure document is deficient in ensuring that employee’s personal medical history details and specific outcomes of the Assessment are kept confidential and not disclosed to Essential.
  3. The Procedure document is deficient in outlining what the blood and urine test will be used for.
  4. If the employee appeals the Work Capacity Assessment outcome and requests an independent Medical Practitioner it should be at the employers cost, not the employees.
  5. The Procedure document is deficient in outlining what happens if an employee is deemed “Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”.

As part of the application the Union applied for an interim order imposing the status quo. Essential opposed the status quo and after much debate it was agreed that the ETU would not pursue status quo at this stage as Essential agreed to meet over the next couple of days to address the 5 key issues in a timely manner.

The parties met directly after the hearing and significant progress was made on issues 2, 3, 4 & 5. The parties are still apart on issue 1.

Essential did clarify that employees are not required to go to their GP and get a full medical history or reports to present to InjuryNET.

Essential clarified that they do not receive any personal information as a result of what the employee discloses to InjuryNET or specific details of the assessment outcome. That information is kept confidential with InjuryNET covered by Privacy Laws. Essential only receives the outcome of the assessment from InjuryNET stating the employee’s current fitness level -“Fit for substantive duty –unconditional”, “Fit for substantive duty –conditional”, Unfit for substantive duty –temporary” or Unfit for substantive duty –permanently”.

The parties committed to work through the issues over the next few days to try and resolve the dispute. The matter was left open with FWC in case resolution cannot be reached.

As the matter is still in dispute, and until the requirements are clarified, the ETU 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.

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

Today the ETU lodged a Dispute with the Fair Work Commission re Work Capacity Assessment Procedure. As part of the application the Union has applied to the Fair Work Commission for an interim order imposing the status quo.

Last week we wrote to Essential Energy raising serious concerns with EE’s implementation of the Work Capacity Assessments. The ETU requested EE provide evidence that genuine consultation has occurred with the ETU & the estimated 1850 employees this will affect. We requested EE provide evidence it has met its consultation obligations under the Work Health & Safety Act and the Enterprise Agreement.

The response from EE this week was an attempt to show that consultation had occurred. What the evidence clearly shows, is that no genuine consultation has occurred with the ETU or 1850 employees this procedure will affect, in our view, breaching their obligations.

As a result of our letter and the Notice to members last week, EE fast tracked booking employees into medical assessments and threatened disciplinary action if employees refuse to adhere to the assessments.

The ETU advises that in the interim, refrain from giving any consent or disclosing any personal medical history, blood or urine to the 3rd party providers –InjuryNET. 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. Contact your local delegate or Organiser.

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.

Dave McKinley
SECRETARY
ETU NSW

The ETU offer six general scholarships every single year with each scholarship valued at $2,000. These scholarships are available to ETU members, their children and their grandchildren. To qualify, you must be enrolled in studies in an approved course at a registered training organisation at diploma level or higher.

To apply for one of six annual general scholarships download the application form. Conditions apply (see application form). Applications are being accepted for 2017 and close at 4.30pm Friday 30 June, 2017. Successful applicants to be notified by 31 July, 2017.

With the footy season gearing up the ETU Footy Tipping Comp is now open for people to join. Try your hand a tipping your weekly favourites and get you workmates to join in the fun.

We will again be giving away periodical prizes through the season based on weekly results while the overall competition winner will receive one free week accommodation at the ETU Holiday Cabins at Nambucca Heads on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED TO THE ETU FOOTY TIPPING COMP HOME PAGE.

The competition password is: Electric

In order to be awarded a prize participants must be financial members of the ETU NSW and ACT Branch.

In Unity,

Dave McKinley - Secretary

Working in Heat

Posted on 13-12-2016

Weather forecasters are predicting that temperatures will be in excess of 38*C across NSW while the ACT is expected to reach temperatures exceeding 33*C.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress please follow the links below for further information from SafeWork NSW on working in heat.

SAFEWORK NSW HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

SAFEWORK NSW HOT & COLD ENVIRONMENTS

SAFEWORK NSW MANAGING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT CODE OF PRACTICE

ETU members should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation, including but not limited to taking regular breaks, conducting individual (personal) risk assessment and/or ceasing work completely.

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions about working in heat please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

In unity,

Dave McKinley - Deputy Secretary

 

There has been an incident in South Australia involving injuries to an employee that occurred as a result of a failure of an EWP.
 
A knuckle on an 18M GMJ EWP failed while the employee was aloft. The employee suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

The EWP was at working height (9m) when the top knuckle pin dislodged, the bucket fell back to its rest position (about 2.5m) with the worker and tools in the bucket. This bucket is 8 years old and had not undergone major rebuilds. 

The pin retaining device appears to have failed. The fulcrum on GMJ EWPS are covered by a shroud and cannot be seen during start up inspections. 

SA Safe Work is investigating and all similar EWPs have been removed from service.

All similar EWPs should be removed from service until such times as members can be assured of their safe operation.

Specifically, and in addition to all other prestart checks, members are to physically check fulcrum pins and pin retaining devices on all similar EWPs prior to any use.

Since the Liberal/Nationals came to government in 2011, Essential Energy has slashed 1,400 regional jobs – 789 Voluntary Redundancy – with the rest coming from retirement and resignations. They have reduced the number of Essential Energy locations across the state from 147 to 100, and despite the company making a $1.2 million loss in the last financial year, Essential Energy PAID THE NSW GOVERNMENT A $28.1 MILLION DIVIDEND!

Analysis of the Essential Energy Annual Report reveals that the better than expected result in 2015-16 has been attributed to:

“… reduced operating costs, particularly in the area of employee costs, contractor expenses and plant costs. The lower employee costs were a result of lower than budgeted employees during the year.”

On top of revealing an addiction to dividends, the Annual Report, quietly tabled on the last sitting day of the NSW Parliament, revealed that Essential Energy executives all received big pay rises over the 2015-16 financial year with the smallest pay increase for the executive team being 4.1% or a $14,000 pay rise in a single year!

The combined executive increases for the top five earners totaled almost $300,000 which, for a company that is implementing hundreds of job cuts, is nothing short of double standards and betrayal by those that lead your organisation.

Leading the pack was Gary Humphries who pocketed an increase of $219,622 according to Essential Energy’s annual reports for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years, representing an increase of more than 40% while others including Luke Jenner, David Nardi & Caroline Hungerford who all pocketed increases of between $14,000 and $24,550 or between 4.1% - 7.8% in the last year.

These executive pay rises, along with the hefty government dividend, could have been used to fund frontline workers and keep hundreds of people employed but Essential Energy has chosen to distribute almost $300,000 in spoils to just half a dozen people.

The ETU is calling on these overpaid executives to return this money to the company in order to minimise jobs losses. We say put your money where your mouth is – you say you are sorry about the cuts – now show that you are sorry through your actions.

When these people next visit your depot on their “roadshow” be sure to remember that they accepted massive pay increases while at the same time finding ways to put you and your workmates out of a job.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary

Yesterday I met with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro regarding the Fair Work Commission determination and the impact this will have on regional jobs across NSW. During the meeting I advised the Deputy Premier that the ETU will act in the interest of our members to minimise any impact of job losses.

Mr Barilaro gave no commitment that he would intervene to stop the job losses but I did advise him that the the ETU would campaign vigorously against any cuts. The Deputy Premier gave an undertaking to go away and talk to Essential Energy management to find out exactly what the company’s “real” plans are in relation to the actual number of positions to be targeted between now and 2019.

During the meeting I outlined opportunities that exist for Essential Energy to minimise jobs losses by returning work in-house from contractors and to expand into contestable areas, an approach that would keep people employed and generate additional revenue and profit for the company. The Deputy Premier gave me an undertaking that he would raise these issues with management.

Our priority is to secure as many jobs as possible for ETU members, through whatever means necessary and to minimse the impact of the Fair Work Commission ruling.

I believe that a commitment from the company to halt outsourcing, return work in-house and an expansion of the business into contestable areas, not only makes sense, but will reduce the impact on ETU members and regional NSW.

Essential Energy already have the employees and equipment to do this work and this is the policy that the ETU will pursue on your behalf. We will work cooperatively with the government and management if it means saving jobs at Essential Energy.

I want to thank ETU members for their solid commitment over the past two years – without this members would be much worse off - the feedback we are getting loud and clear across the network is that no-one trusts current management but we will continue to actively push for decisions and policies that see work return to Essential Energy and the company take advantage of expansion opportunities.

Finally, during this time I ask all members to look out for each other, a decision has been handed down and as we move into the Christmas Period we want everyone to be able to spend quality time with your family and friends.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley
Deputy Secretary

The ETU has today written to the new leader of the NSW National Party, John Barilaro, calling on him to intervene and stop or at least minimise proposed job losses at Essential Energy. As the sole shareholder, the NSW Government has the ability to intervene and stop the job cuts if they choose.

A copy of the letter from the ETU to the Deputy Premier is available here for your information, we will continue to put political pressure on the NSW Government and in particular the NSW National Party.

Click here to access a copy of the full bench workplace determination – we encourage all employees to read this document in full taking particular attention of what your management argued for and in particular the company’s disclosure at [60] on page 36 in which Essential Energy told the Fair Work Commission that they intend to reduce their workforce from the current 3,200 positions to 1,600 positions through the use of outsourcing.

This is the company’s true plan, the one that management did not want you to see and the plan that their lawyers fought so hard to keep secret. You cannot trust management, they are not your friend however the ETU will fight for your interest regardless of the outcome, we will continue to hold management to account and we will use all available measures to secure the best outcome for members.

Tomorrow we have a phone hook up to go through the decision and what it means, this will be followed by depot visits from organisers over the coming weeks and we will also make contact with management following the handing down of the decision.

If members have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU Organiser and keep an eye out for each other, if you have any concerns please contact the union for assistance.

In Unity,
Steve Butler