Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Ausgrid Tables Really Gross EBA Offer

Paul Lister - Thursday, September 28, 2017
Yesterday the combined unions negotiating committee met with Ausgrid management. Ausgrid tabled theirproposal for the new enterprise agreement. As we expected, management wants mass forced redundancies, unlimited contracting out and a below-inflation wage outcome.

Ausgrid’s proposal is a gross insult. Here are the five key attacks on employees:

  1. Unlimited forced redundancies: Ausgrid would implement unlimited forced redundancies from June 2020 with a package inferior to the current VR package.
  2. Unlimited contracting out: No change to the current contracting out clause means Ausgrid can outsource your work to the lowest bidder.
  3. Changed dispute settlements: Ausgrid could implement change without having to put things on hold until a dispute is resolved with employees and their unions.
  4. Watered down consultation provisions: Ausgrid can just tick boxes and quickly change things without genuine consultation with employees and their unions.
  5. A below-inflation conditional wage rise with no back pay: 2.5% in year 1 and 2% in years 2, 3 & 4 but only if you accept their proposal for a Career, Capability and Remuneration (CCR) framework for which we haven’t even seen translation grades or pay points. In its current form, the CCR would see people progress to higher grades only if their manager likes them.
In addition to these major attacks Ausgrid wants to:

  • Reduce your capacity to take Annual and Long Service Leave at half pay
  • Switch you to a fortnightly pay cycle
  • Reduce the number of occasions you can take sick leave without a certificate from seven down to four
  • Direct when you can take your RDOs.
We welcome Ausgrid’s acceptance of the combined unions’ proposals for:

  • An incentive payment for redeployees of $75K (unions suggested $180K)
  • Improvements to parental leave, and
  • Lactation breaks for mothers.
Ausgrid are yet to understand that negotiations are a two-way process of give and take. Our members have given enough:

A 4-year wage freeze -- Mr. Gross, the Ausgrid Board and their superannuation fund owners IFM and Australian Super would never accept such a freeze on their own remuneration.We have conceded that Ausgrid can have a forced redundancy mechanism after June 2020, but not an unlimited one. It must have a credible cap so that Ausgrid cannot implement mass sackings.

Ausgrid clearly wants to take a lot but are willing to give very little.

We will continue to negotiate with Ausgrid but we are a long way apart. The company’s proposal as it stands is unacceptable to employees. There will be another EBA meeting on Monday 9 October and then a full paid delegates meeting on Wednesday 11 October to determine our next steps which may very well include industrial action. We will keep you informed every step of the way.

They weren't asking for much

Peter Moss - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ausgrid Joint Union EBA Update

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Over the past 6 to 8 weeks Ausgrid has cancelled and rescheduled several EBA meetings despite continual promises of a documented offer. When the EBA negotiating committee did finally meet on the 29th August the purpose was to introduce their new Ausgrid negotiating team headed up by John Stephens and Hannah McCaughey. For those of you who are not already aware John Stephens led the charge for the successful termination application of Queensland Freight Rail company Aurizon’s EBA’s which eventually resulted in a substandard agreement covering thousands of workers, being forced on rail employees by the FWC.

Under the previous negotiating team led by Trevor Armstrong we believed that some progress was being made towards a negotiated outcome.

The fact that Ausgrid risked sending such a deliberately provocative signal by appointing as their bargaining representative the IR Manager behind this landmark termination decision is revealing.  The Aurizon decision is viewed throughout the union movement as symptomatic of the fundamental problem in today’s Australia.   The rules are broken – the rules which reign over EBA negotiations in 2017 promote job insecurity, loss of conditions without a pay rise that comes even close to any real form of compensation.    

When the ETU pressed this matter with the CEO Richard Gross, he maintains that Ausgrid “has no intention of pursuing a termination application”. We shall see if he keeps his word in due course.

Our view is that if Ausgrid present a document on 27th September it will still contain the two job destroying clauses that we are insisting need to be modified before we can reach agreement;

  1. Unlimited forced redundancies from June 2020 onwards and
  2. The current contracting out clause which allows Ausgrid to contract out work at much lower rates of pay and conditions – thereby undercutting our members job security.

We also believe Ausgrid will probably also re-introduce nasties that had been pretty much agreed on as being off the table a few months ago including the removal of status quo provisions during disputes and short-circuiting and watering down of consultation. We will obviously see how accurate these predictions are on the 27th September.

The message we are getting from members could not be clearer - negotiations have gone on for far too long and we have given enough.

In 2012 Ausgrid had some 6,000 employees – 5 years later that workforce has been slashed by about 30% to around 4,000. Our members have been subject to a 3-year wage freeze while Ausgrid executive salaries continue to rise unabated.

We have conceded to the company during the negotiations that they can have a forced redundancy mechanism post June 2020 - but that we want a cap on how many can be exited per annum and we don’t want them to have the ability to contract out our members work to the lowest bidder. Ausgrid’s response has been pretty much to the following effect;

“thanks for that we’ll take your concessions but not only are we not giving anything in return – we want more concessions including unlimited forced redundancies and the ability to contract out work on whatever rates of pay and conditions we want”.

Meanwhile Ausgrid continue to act like corporate renegades by offshoring GIS roles to India and getting rid of another 11 emergency contact centre roles by abolishing the Sydney contact centre.

The time is approaching for matters to come to a head. Once Ausgrid has presented their offer we will convene a meeting of the combined union delegates and based on the feedback from that meeting and the reaction to Ausgrid’s offer we will discuss our options under the Fair Work Act including taking protected industrial action.

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

Endeavour Energy New EBA Negotiations Update

Paul Lister - Friday, September 08, 2017

Dear Members,

Yesterday the ETU and other Unions conducted a joint full delegates meeting at the Liverpool Catholic Club, Hoxton Park in preparation for the new round of EBA negotiations which will be commencing next Thursday 14th Sept 2017.

The purpose of this delegates meeting was to endorse our negotiating team and discuss/debate and endorse the new claims that your negotiating team will be focused on throughout these negotiations to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all members to vote on…(hopefully). 

We will be discussing the new claims at the meeting next week with the Company’s new negotiating team.  If you wish to discuss these claims please talk to your local delegate who attended yesterday’s delegates meeting.  The claims will be distributed post our meeting next week.

Your elected ETU Bargaining reps for these negotiations are;

  • Noel Mahon, Technologist - Glendenning Depot
  • Ellen McNally, Call Centre - Springhill Depot
  • Nick McWhirter (Snr), Project/Contract Inspector - Huntingwood
  • Brad Rossitter, Live Linesmen - Shellharbour Depot
  • Chris Tyrrell, Transmission - Narellan Depot
  • Jareth Woosley, EFM - Bowenfels Depot
  • Tony McCarthy, EMSO - Penrith Depot
  • Troy Fewings, Manager/Specialist - Springhill Depot
  • David J Campbell, Ops Manager - Hoxton Park Depot
  • Nathan Gale, Systems Operation - Huntingwood

and the ETU.

Further updates will be forthcoming as information comes to light or the situation demands it.

Remember, your safety is paramount to you, your family and your work colleagues…DON’T cut corners…it’s not worth it !

Yours in unity,
Brad Currey