General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

PWCS workers set to stike

- Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ETU members working for Port Waratah Coal Service are continuing industrial action after negotiations between the company and the union’s single bargaining unit broke down. Made up of the MUA, TWU, ETU, AWU & AMWU the single bargaining unit has been negotiating with the company over a new enterprise agreement.

However PWCS and the unions cannot agree on important employment protections including the use of contractors and the dispute settlement procedure which has led to industrial action. ETU members are set to strike for 24 hours commencing today, Wednesday 29 May commencing at noon.

Meanwhile the international union IndustriALL has sent a letter of support to PWCS union members.

ETU Social Media

- Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be sure to visit out the ETU on FacebookTwitter and YouTube for regular updates while you are there check out some of our photos and videos.

Ampcontrol: "30 to 40 Jobs to go"

- Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THIRTY to 40 jobs are likely to go from Ampcontrol with more job losses possible in the coming weeks, unions said after meeting with management on Friday morning.

An Ampcontrol spokeswoman confirmed the likely job losses after the meeting, saying the figures given by the union were  ‘‘ballpark for the affected areas’’.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Russell Wilson said the shop floor rumours had been of 100 jobs to go, so the outcome of 30 to 40 was not as bad as it could have been.

Unions approached the Newcastle Herald on Thursday, unhappy with the way Ampcontrol was handling the need to cut jobs.

Mr Wilson said the company had called for voluntary redundancies from across the company without giving employees any idea of how many jobs were going, or from which of the company’s various divisions and businesses.

Ampcontrol defended its actions in a statement to the Herald on Thursday afternoon, and Mr Wilson said the company’s decision today to give more detail was a change of heart.

‘‘We formerly had a good relation with them and hopefully it is back on track,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘In five or six weeks there could be another round of job cuts, depending on the state of contract work, but they have told us this time they will involve the unions from the start and they have promised to help people with their resumes in getting other work and in training to get other skills.’’

He said Ampcontrol had businesses at Tomago, Cardiff and Cameron Park and it appeared jobs would go from all Hunter sites.

He said the company would not say if jobs were going from other Ampcontrol sites outside of the region.

The company has grown dramatically in recent years, buying a number of rival businesses across Australia and internationally.

‘‘We asked them whether they had grown too fast and paid too much for some of their assets but they said they were all bought at bargain basement prices, had helped them diversify and had added value to the company,’’ Mr Wilson said.

In a memo Friday, to Hunter-based Ampcontrol employees, the company’s chief executive officer and managing director, Geoff Lilliss, set out the situation facing the company and the workforce.

Mr Lilliss said that after ‘‘initially taking a cautious approach to employee numbers’’ it had become necessary to cut further jobs.

Mr Lilliss said employment agreements varied across the business, and voluntary redundancy was being offered ‘‘in some circumstances’’.

People were being redeployed as an alternative to redundancy wherever possible.

Biennial Conference, New Website & Scholarships

- Friday, May 24, 2013

Earlier this week our union held its biennial conference in Wollongong where a number of important matters were discussed. 120 delegates from across NSW and the ACT had the opportunity to raise issues, debate matters and adopt policy positions that impact on CEPU/ETU members.

A more comprehensive conference report will appear in the next LiveWire but some of the items covered at conference included:

  • Superannuation.
  • OH&S matters including safety committees, cross industry safety matters, communication, asbestos safety, changes to Workers Compensation and the possible provision of defibrillators in some industries.
  • Industrial and legal matters including how ETU members can access the services of NEW Law when making a workers compensation claim.
  • National Licensing and the national apprentice wage case.
  • Improvements to union communications including social media and the launch of a new & improved website; and
  • Improvements to ETU membership such as Journey Cover Insurance.

These items were discussed over a period of three days and the input from delegates was very much appreciated. It is the effort of our delegates that often goes un-noticed and without thanks, so I would like to say a big thank you to those members that take on the role of delegate in order to represent your colleagues, without you our union would not be as strong as it is.


As mentioned the union has launched a new website. Our last website was launched in 2009 and was in need of an overhaul. The union had four objectives in this overhaul including – introducing the ability for new members to join the union and pay online, simplify the layout and navigation, provide relevant and real time information and incorporate our social media accounts with the website.

Members will also now be able to request an electronic copy of their agreement through the website and access news, updates and notices relevant to your workplace and industry through the new industry groupings on the home page.

I encourage all members to have a look at the new website ( and we will continue to look at ways to improve interaction with members online.


One of the benefits of ETU membership is access to our annual education scholarships for members, their children and grandchildren. Nominations for this year close at the end of June so I encourage all members, your children or grandchildren that are studying at diploma level or high to submit an application.

We will be awarding six scholarships each worth $2,000 to assist with education expenses. You can read more about the ETU Education Scholarships here.

AMPControl To Slash Up To 100 Hunter Valley Jobs

- Friday, May 24, 2013

AMPCONTROL, one of the Hunter Valley’s largest private electrical engineering and manufacturing companies is set to slash up to 100 jobs in the Hunter Valley despite offers of assistance from employees.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) were told this week that the company will be making an announcement next Tuesday on jobs cuts with affected staff being told to pack their bags by Wednesday.

ETU Organiser Russell Wilson said that the unions went to the company with a plan to reduce the number of working days from five to four to assist the company but this was rejected by the company without consideration.

“We went to the company with an offer of assistance but management are more interested in making people redundant than working together to get through a tough period.” said Mr Wilson.

“The company will not tell us how many employees are going to be laid off but we have heard rumours that it could be as many as one hundred local jobs that disappear overnight.”

“Management would know by now exactly how many people are going to be affected but they are keeping it secret until next Tuesday and giving those dedicated employees that lose their job just twenty four hours to leave.”

“I think this is totally unacceptable, the company has a moral responsibility to its employees to at least give them a few weeks’ notice and to assist them in transitioning into alternative employment.”

AMWU Organiser Todd Nickle said that his members feel like they have an axe hanging over their head every day they turn up to work.

“These highly skilled workers have been turning up to work each day not knowing if they will have a job tomorrow,

“The company admits on their website that their success has only been made possible because of their loyal and dedicated workforce yet they make secret plans to sack up to one hundred people, it’s just a disgrace.” Mr Nickle said.

“We are calling on Geoff Lilliss and the board to reconsider the need to sack any workers and if they are going to sack people we are asking management to provide appropriate notice and to assistance people in the transition to new employment.” said Mr Nickle.

Fair Work Apprentice Campaign Update

- Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Fair Work Commission has now finished hearing the ETU and other unions’ applications to improve wages and conditions for apprentices.  The Full Bench reserved its decision.

Background: What We (And Others) Applied For

Increasing award wages has been central to the ETU’s Apprentice Campaign.  To that end, as part of the two-yearly review of modern awards, the ETU applied to vary the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010 to:

  • increase award wages for junior apprentices from 40%/52%/70%/82% of the trade rate to 60%/65%/75%/90% of the trade rate;
  • provide that adult apprentices must be paid at no less than the lowest classification in the award and, if an apprentice is employed with the same employer prior to becoming an apprentice, be paid a wage no lower than the award rate applying to the classification in which they were employed;
  • require employers to pay for travel and accommodation costs associated with training; and
  • introduce new award obligations concerning mentoring, supervision, and recognition of service, as well as for the provision of two weeks’ notice prior to an employer applying to suspend or terminate a training contract.

The ETU also applied to increase apprentice wages and compensation for travelling to training under the Electrical Power Industry Award 2010 and the Telecommunications Services Award 2010, as well as to increase the lift industry allowance payable to apprentices under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010.

The ACTU, AMWU, CFMEU and CEPU – Plumbing Division also applied to vary other awards to improve conditions for apprentices.

A number of parties either applied to introduce competency based wage progression, or urged that it be introduced.  The ETU strongly opposed any variation to awards to apply competency based progression to electrical apprentices.

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) applied to vary the National Training Wage Schedule in all awards to try and exclude any existing payments to trainees to cover costs incurred in travelling to training.

Employers / Commonwealth Government

The union applications were opposed by a wide range of employer groups including: the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), the Electrical Contractors Association (Master Electricians); the AIG; Master Builders Australia; the Housing Industry Association; Australian Business Industrial; the Motor Traders Association; the Master Plumbers NSW and Victoria; the Coal Industry Employer Group; all State chambers of commerce and industry; and the Australian Federation of Employers and Industry.

Applications were opposed on a number of very technical jurisdictional grounds and on the merits of the claims.  NECA’s central argument was that, in the electrical contracting industry, the proposed increases, or any in fact increase, was not affordable.

The Commonwealth Government supported a “suitable increase” to junior apprentice wages, the introduction of rates of pay for adult apprentices and the union claims relating to employers paying for travel costs.  Although the Commonwealth Government strongly supported competency based progression, it also supported an exclusion for electrical apprentices.

Material Before the Full Bench

All applications were heard together over some 22 hearing days.  The case opened with oral submissions from Dave Oliver (ACTU Secretary); Peter Tighe; Andrew Dettmer (AMWU National President) and Dave Noonan (CFMEU – C&G Division Secretary).

ETU material in support came from all state branches and also included the Workplace Research Centre Report  “The Changing Situation of Electrical Apprentices”.  The ETU and NECA brought the largest amount of witness evidence, each with over twenty witnesses. Most parties also relied upon a substantial volume of survey results, research reports and other material.

What Result is Likely?

The Full Bench gave little express indication of its views on either the jurisdictional objections or the merits of particular claims.  A best guess might be that the unions’ wage related claims have a better prospect of success than some of the non-wage claims.  Any movement on wages appears likely to include a multiple entry wage rate for first year apprentices, for example the three level model based upon years of schooling presently contained in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010.  There is some cause for optimism that an increase of some kind might be granted.

The Full Bench gave no indication of when a decision might be made.  Again, a best guess might be that, given the very substantial volume of material before the Commission, a decision could be published in 6 to 8 weeks.

If the Fair Work Commission does grant substantial wage increases to apprentices, it is very likely that they will be transitioned.

What Now?

It is proposed that the apprentice committee be reconvened to be given the opportunity for a more comprehensive report concerning the proceedings before the Full Bench and to plan the next stages of the Apprentice Campaign.

Coca Cola Call Centre Negotiations Commence

- Thursday, May 23, 2013

The union and the Company have agreed to commence negotiations on the NCC enterprise agreement which is set to expire at the end of September this year. You would no doubt be aware that the agreement forms the basis of your employment conditions and is therefore extremely important.

The first step in order to get negotiations underway will be the issuing of the “Notice of Representational Rights” (NRR) by the company to NCC employees at St Leonards and Smithfield.

The company is required by law to issue the NRR which provides workers with the opportunity to appoint a representative to negotiate agreement outcomes on their behalf. Union members are not required to take any action should you wish the union to represent you throughout the negotiations as the union will be appointed as the default bargaining agent for all union members.

It is the unions’ intention to expand the coverage of the agreement to also include NCC support functions such as workforce planning, quality, routes, projects and clerical given that these roles are clearly functions of the NCC and positions that often form part of the career path through the call centre.

The union will be seeking to hold meetings with members over the coming weeks in order to develop a log of claims on behalf of members. This is your opportunity to have a say on what you would like to see in any future enterprise agreement.

In the meantime, should you have any questions or ideas on what should be included in the next agreement please feel free to raise these matters with your workplace delegates – Andrew Webster (Level 2), Olga Larenas (Level 3) and Jan Bonham (night shift), alternatively you can contact Steve Robinson from the union on 0414 877 581.

When the going gets tough, PWCS workers get going.

- Friday, May 17, 2013

Workers at a Newcastle coal terminal have endorsed ongoing industrial action after striking over what they say is a threat to their work rights. 
Over 200 employees of Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) attended a four-hour rally in Newcastle on Wednesday where they unanimously voted for a two-week campaign of protected action.
The action will include eight, 12 and 24 hour stoppages as well as bans on overtime and working outside classifications, the unions representing them said in a joint statement.
PWCS's current offer removes limits on the use of contractors and gives employees less say over work hours and shifts, The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Transport Workers Union (TWU), Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) say.
Talks between the PWCS and unions will continue next week.
Comment was being sought from PWCS, which has previously said it was seeking productivity and flexibility trade-offs against significant pay increases for workers.
A MUA spokesman said his members couldn't understand why the relationship with PWCS had soured.
"We've enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for many years," he told AAP.
"We just don't understand why after 30 years of a good relationship they've decided to reduce conditions of employment."
A PWCS spokesman said the company had not received any immediate notification of pending action.
Wednesday's four-hour stop-work caused the company minimal disruption, he said.

The United Steel Workers in the USA have sent a letter of support to PWCS Workers.

ETU Provides Journey Cover Insurance for Members

Angela Lordan - Monday, April 15, 2013

The ETU now provides Journey Cover Insurance for all financial members in NSW and the ACT.

This means that you are covered by ETU insurance if you are injured or have an accident travelling to or from work.

The union introduced Journey Cover Insurance in February after savage cuts to workers compensation left members exposed.

Last year the O’Farrell Government abolished journey cover for most NSW workers.

That is why the ETU has stepped up. We must ensure our members are protected from potentially catastrophic health and financial damage. We are now one of just a few unions to offer journey cover to all financial members as an automatic right at no extra cost.

Any member injured while travelling to or from work after 11 February 2013 is now covered and the benefits are generous.

  • Eligible injured members will receive 100 percent of wages up to $2,000 per week for the period they are unable to work due to injury.
  • Cover is available starting 14 days after the accident or injury.

To make a claim contact the ETU. The union will give you a claim number. for further details about this new benefit visit our Industrial Support Pages.

Working In The Heat

Katie Kidd - Saturday, January 05, 2013

ETU members should be aware of the dangers of working in heat. Please read this and follow the advice provided by the Union and Workcover NSW.
WorkCover NSW Hot and Cold Environments.
WorkCover NSW Working in Heat

Please read this ETU Notice to Members which includes advice from the union and the ETU's working in heat policy.