Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

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

Fair Work Conciliation Hearing

Paul Lister - Wednesday, May 17, 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

Forced Medical Assessments Update - ETU Lodges Dispute with FWC

Paul Lister - Friday, May 05, 2017

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

APPLY NOW - ETU 2017 Education Scholarships

Paul Lister - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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.

Footy Tipping Comp 2017 - Win a week at the ETU Holiday Cabins

Paul Lister - Thursday, March 02, 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

National Fight Back Rally - 9 March

Paul Lister - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Working in Heat

Paul Lister - Tuesday, December 13, 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

 


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