Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Change the Rules Rally - 16 November

Paul Lister - Monday, November 13, 2017

Join us 11.30am Thursday 16 November - Belmore Park, Sydney (near Central Station).

Majority of ETU Member Support Revised In-principle Offer

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Last week we asked ETU Delegates to circulate the Essential Energy revised in-principle offer and seeking feedback from members. The overwhelming response has been ETU members support the concept of an early settlement, “rollover” of the Enterprise Agreement.

Next Steps

Essential Energy will issue employees with a notice of representational rights. This formally starts the bargaining process. The parties and representatives will meet to formalise a draft agreement to go to an electronic vote. This vote cannot take place within 21 days of the notice of representational rights being issued. A draft agreement and explanatory document needs to be circulated 7 days before any vote can be held. 

The aim is to have a vote conducted early December.

Thank you to all the ETU Delegates for your continued efforts and enabling this to happen in such a short timeframe. Your efforts are much appreciated.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary

Mobile: 0414877301 / Email: justinp@etunsw.asn.au

Essential Energy Responds to ETU’s Calls to Improve the Enterprise Agreement Offer.

Paul Lister - Thursday, October 26, 2017

As reported yesterday, the ETU and Delegates called on Essential Energy to improve the in-principle offer which could see an early settlement of the Essential Energy Enterprise Agreement 2018. We sought improvements of a minimum cap on wages, bring second and third pay rise forward and revised wording on Individual Flexibility Arrangement clause. Essential Energy Board met today and the following improved offer has been put forward for the ETU and its member’s consideration.

  • A roll-over of current employment conditions through a new enterprise agreement with the one exception of a revised Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFA) clause;
  • A minimum cap of 2% which applies to each of the proposed CPI adjustments (on an annual or pro-rata basis);
  • A maximum cap of 2.5% which applies to each of the proposed CPI adjustments (on an annual or pro-rata basis);
  • Subject to the above points, CPI based wage increases as follows:
    • a CPI adjustment on 1 January 2018 based on the previous rolling 12 month CPI rate (CPI figures based on ABS Catalogue 6401.0)
    • a further CPI adjustment on 1 July 2018 based on the previous rolling 6 month CPI rate (minimum 1% up to maximum 1.25%);
    • a further CPI adjustment on 1 July 2019 based on the previous rolling 12 month CPI rate; and
    • a further CPI adjustment on 1 July 2020 based on the previous rolling 12 month CPI rate
  • Apply the above wage increases to other allowances (excluding ESRA);
  • Adopt a revised IFA clause which applies to “arrangements about start and/or finish times and / or vary the hours of work, within the spread of ordinary hours (6am – 6pm, between Monday to Friday) where requested by an employee and mutually agreed by Essential Energy”.
  • A nominal expiry date for the enterprise agreement of 30 June 2021.

Essential Energy revised offer seeks to genuinely progress discussions to see an early settlement. This revised offer front loads pay rises with the first pay rise being paid 1 Jan 2018 (6 month before expiry or current agreement)  followed by an additional pay rise added in July 2018.  The offer would see a total pay rise over 3.5 years of a minimum of 7% up to a maximum of 8.25%. The first pay rise on 1st January 2018 would be 2% as the rolling 12 months is at 1.8%.

Next Steps

The ETU is now seeking feedback from members on this in-principle “rollover” early settlement proposal. An in-principle agreement would then see a formal process start where representational rights would be issued by Essential, minimum 21 day negotiation period, new Enterprise Agreement drafted then put to a vote of all employees covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

If an in-principle agreement is not reached, the parties would enter into a traditional style negotiation (logs of claims) where the parties enter negotiations and seek to reach agreement on a new Enterprise Agreement to start at July 2018.

The ETU is asking Delegates to provide feedback from a depot level to myself by COB Tuesday 31st October 2017. Do the majority of members at your depot accept this “in-principle” offer? YES or NO.
 
Justin Page
Assistant Secretary

0414 877 301 | justinp@etunsw.asn.au

Essential Energy enterprise agreement discussions commence

Peter Moss - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Forty ETU Delegates from Essential Energy met at our ETU Sydney Office yesterday to hear an Enterprise Agreement proposal from Essential CEO John Cleland. The intention was to ascertain the views of the ETU on an early settlement of the Essential Energy Enterprise Agreement 2018 negotiations.



Essential’s proposal:

  1. Employment Conditions- A roll-over of current employment conditions through a new enterprise agreement with the one exception of replacing the current Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFA) clause with the model flexibility term (As contained in the Fair Work Regulations 2009).
  2. Term of Agreement- A nominal expiry date of 30 June 2021.
  3. Pay Increase - A consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment to wages and allowances (excluding the Electrical Safety Rules Allowance). The CPI adjustment would be capped at the NSW Governments Wages Policy Task Force limit of 2.5% per annum.
  4. If parties reach agreement on an in-principle basis by mid-November, first wage increase would be 1 January 2018 (6 months earlier than the current expiry date of 30 June 2018), second wages increase 30 June 2019 and third wages increase 30 June 2020.

The Delegate’s had the opportunity to hear directly from John and to ask questions about Essentials proposal. After considering the proposal the Delegates called on Essential to improve the offer by putting a minimum cap of 2% in place and bring the second and third wage increase forward. The parties will work on wording for the IFA Clause.

John committed to consider the ETU’s counter proposal and respond in a timely manner. When questioned about Essentials the intent of reaching an early agreement, John’s response was the Business needs to reform through less bureaucracy, better systems and processes, improved technology, not by making changes to the Enterprise agreement.

On the question of redundancies John stated there will not be any massive wholesale redundancies. Essential are achieving reductions through voluntary redundancies and natural attrition. There will be further reductions through improved technology, but it is anticipated it will be through voluntary redundancies.

Justin Page
Assistant Secretary

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

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