Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

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,
0417 208 447 /

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