Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities


Paul Lister - Friday, March 02, 2018

Dear ETU Members.

Product Safety Australia, a division of the Commonwealth Governments Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, this week issued a product recall relating to Takata Airbags. This recall is compulsory due to significant safety risks and affects a large number of car makes and models and a small number of motor cycles.


If your employer has any of the affected vehicles in their fleet you should first contact your supervisor to find out if the mandatory recall work has been completed or to report that your vehicle is impacted by the product recall.

The ACCC has advised the following:

It is critical that owners of cars with alpha airbags installed take immediate steps to have the airbags replaced because of the significant risk of injury or death involved in using cars with these airbags. All other consumers whose vehicles are on the full recall list are urged to arrange for the replacement of Takata airbags in their vehicles as soon as possible due to the safety risks involved in the use of these vehicles.

If you have any issues arising in the workplace relating to the operation of affected vehicles please immediately contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley

Ausgrid EBA Update - 27 Feb

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, February 27, 2018


The time has come to vote on the offer put forward by Ausgrid.

I want to say from the outset that the ETU negotiating team has done an outstanding job to get to the position we are in. The negotiations have been long and arduous and your committee has met every challenge thrown up at them in a highly professional manner.

Four years ago we were fighting to ensure that Government did not gain the ability to decimate the workforce down to unparalleled levels and strip away long held conditions such as the 15% super. The agreement that you are to vote on goes nowhere near what has been long threatened and in fact enhances some of your current conditions.

This EBA provides wage increases of 7.5%, which is close to what other states have delivered under friendly Labor Government's. In addition to the annual pay increases the proposed agreement also provides a one off payment of $1,600 per employee which represents an additional 1% to 2% in year 1 depending on each individuals salary. The Agreement locks in no forced redundancies until June 2020 and then caps future potential redundancy beyond the expiry date of the agreement. There are changes to the agreement, such as fortnightly pay, sick leave occasions without certificates and leave at half pay, the ETU does not and has never supported these items and your negotiating committee have fought to have them excluded from the final document however Ausgrid management have refused to take these items out. Never the less I believe that the agreement is the best that is achievable through the negotiation process and without a protracted industrial campaign.

All in all this agreement leaves members in a position where we have retained superior wages and conditions to other distribution companies around the country whilst ensuring that possible redundancies beyond the expiry of this agreement are kept to a minimum.

The following motion was passed at today’s delegates meeting, that sets out our position over the coming few days.

“This delegates meeting notes the majority support indicated by members for the proposed Ausgrid agreement. Accordingly the combined union delegates endorse the proposed agreement being put to a formal vote. In the event that the agreement is voted down the Union will notify of our intention to take protected industrial action. If the agreement is accepted it will be sent to the Fair work Commission for certification.”

Unfortunately I am unable to attend the Newcastle vote but I will address the Sydney meeting.

In Unity,
Dave McKinley

Union members to decide EBA direction at depot meetings next week

Peter Moss - Friday, February 16, 2018
We urge all union members to attend depot meetings being held across Ausgrid next week to discuss your EBA. This is your chance to have your say directly to management and to ensure your voice is heard by your unions.

Your views will determine the direction of our EBA campaign from this point – is the current offer from management good enough to vote on OR do we need an industrial campaign to fight for an improved offer? That decision will be made by you, our members, next week at these depot meetings.

Background of the document

on 14 February 2018, the negotiating committee met at Ausgrid HOB to finalise the agreement negotiations before Ausgrid circulates a complete document for mass membership consideration. The main elements of that document were detailed in the previous combined union notice dated 2 February and remain in place. This notice can be found at; http://www.etunsw.asn.au/power-water-and-utilities/industrial-action-on-hold-conditional-agreement-on-key-elements-negotiations-to-continue-members-to- At the meeting of the 14th, delegated authority was granted to union officials to finalise any last-minute drafting changes before the document is distributed by Ausgrid and sent to the lawyers. You should now be in possession of a copy of that document.

About the depot meetings

To explain the main elements of the agreement and to gauge member sentiment on the document Ausgrid has, at the request of the unions, agreed to a series of two hour paid depot meetings in the lead up to the final vote. At these meetings Ausgrid management will speak to all employees, without the union present, for the first hour. The second hour will involve union officials’ and delegates explaining the offer and taking questions from members without Ausgrid management present. A schedule of these depot visits appears on the last page of this notice. This process gives members ample opportunity to give feedback to Ausgrid Management and Union Delegates and Officials on the appetite for the Agreement.

What happens next

Delegates meeting to confirm members’ decision; the aim is that by the time a reconvened delegates meeting is held on Tuesday 27th February we will be in a good position to understand the sentiment of our members on the agreement and be able to recommend either an endorsement or an escalated industrial campaign in accordance with our FWC granted 30-day extension of industrial action. It is important that members understand that the agreement which has been distributed has been taken as far as possible by your negotiating committee and the officials. Any further concessions will require a concerted industrial campaign and that will be the subject of discussions during the depot tours. We strongly urge all members to attend these important EBA briefings as it will be the last chance to voice your feelings on the document before either a final vote for endorsement or industrial action. If you have any questions, please contact your workplace delegate or your organiser.

Mark Buttigieg
ETU organiser

Schedule of depot meetings

Ausgrid EBA negotiations - 5 Feb

Bruce Fan - Monday, February 05, 2018

Please find the latest Ausgrid video update from ETU organiser Mark Buttigieg reporting on Ausgrid EBA negotiations.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417 208 447.



Paul Lister - Friday, February 02, 2018



Over the coming weeks the ETU will be seeking feedback from all members about the in principle position, we have also applied to the Fair Work Commission for a 30 day extension to the industrial action period....

Yesterday the combined union delegates met at Ausgrid HOB to discuss Ausgrid’s final Enterprise Agreement negotiated offer. In summary the offer consists of the following key elements;


  • $1600 upfront cash payment and a 2.75% wage increase on a successful employee yes vote.
  • 2.5% on the second anniversary of Agreement certification.
  • 2.25% on the third anniversary of Agreement certification.

Redundancy, Redeployment & Salary Maintenance

Up to 30 June 2020:

A one-off incentive payment of $75,000 for all people in redeployment as at September 2017, and anyone else who enters redeployment up to 1 January 2020.  Redeployees will have 3 weeks to accept or reject the payment.  Those who reject it will permanently lose entitlement to any such payment.

From 1 July 2020:

Up to 250 remaining redeployees can be made forcibly redundant if they do not take a VR.  Those who are forcibly redundant lose entitlement to the 8 weeks’ notice period payment.

From 2 July 2020:

A global cap of 250 for both voluntary and forced redundancies per annum, subject to consultation and processes of seeking VRs first. i.e. There can be no more than 250 redundancies per year of either forced and / or voluntary type.

Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets

Ausgrid have committed to take on 35 Apprentices / Trainees / Cadets per annum for the life of the Agreement.

Contracting out / Outsourcing

On top of the existing clause provisions, a consultative committee comprising unions and Ausgrid management will be formed to have oversight of any work that is contracted out / outsourced and input into Ausgrid’s preferred panel of contractors.


Largely unchanged, however consultation will be necessary when a “significant effect” test as defined in the clause has been met.

Dispute Settlement Process

Time frames for dispute escalation have been included.  This measure ideally sees the dispute process expedited without unnecessary delay.  The inserted timeframes are, however, subject to extension by agreement of the parties.

The status quo provision still applies; however, it will apply when it can be shown to disadvantage the employee/s affected, or if the non-application of status quo during the dispute would bias the case for the dispute at hand.

Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) framework Appendix

The CCR framework is now in its third version and thanks to the negotiating delegates is far removed and improved from the original proposal.  That said, much work is needed on it before it comes into operation.  To that end, the current structure of the CCR is as follows;

  • CCR applies from December 2018;
  • Pay points at transition have largely been set;
  • The “Market rates” which were a feature of the earlier versions have now been abolished and pay rates have been set in line with current pay levels.
  • No one loses money on transition into the framework. Everyone is “grad parented” across to the new system in December 2018 on their rate of pay plus allowances at that time.
  • ESR allowance will be rolled in to the hourly rates and Electricians Licence will remain a stand alone separate all purpose allowance.
  • The inclusion of a “soft merit” appointment concept to facilitate a more streamlined career path where previous versions of the CCR contained too many “hard” merit appointment hurdles.
  • The Appendix is to contain tight consultation guidelines with respect to the development of the soft merit concept and the definition of what “meeting” and “exceeding expectation" will mean in practice.  This consultation will also determine the development of the Work Level Standards.  Work Level Standards won’t be altered as a means of halting progression or lowering pay and unions will have input into these Work Level Standards.

Other Agreement changes

  • Method of payment – people currently on weekly pay will be moved to fortnightly.
  • Annual Leave – Taking of Annual Leave at half pay will only be possible if;
    a) Your leave balance is less than 320 hrs = 40 days (i.e. you can’t have more than 2 years leave accrued to take Annual Leave at half pay and
    b) A minimum of 2 weeks annual leave at half pay is taken.
  • A one-off option to cash out annual leave provided you have a minimum Annual Leave balance of 160 hrs.
  • All Long Service Leave must be taken for a minimum period of 1 week or more. In order to take LSL at half pay you must have an LSL balance of 13 weeks or less. i.e; any accrual beyond the10-year amount cannot be taken at half pay.
  • Sick Leave occasions without a certificate for people with 5 or more years of service have been reduced from 7 occasions to 4 occasions. i.e. aligned with employees with less than 5 years’ service.

The above proposal was discussed at length and in detail, and various options were canvassed including protected industrial action. The meeting concluded with the following motion;

“That the meeting endorses the in principle offer subject to the following criteria;

  1. That the upfront payment of $1600 and the first 2.75% increase are payable on a yes vote of employees and
  2. That the unions retain the right to take protected action if necessary by applying to the Fair Work Commission for an extension to the protected industrial action period of 30 days in accordance with the Act”

It is important to note that the “in principle” endorsement means that the precise and final wording of the Agreement is yet to be agreed.

A report was also provided by Vera Babicheva from the PSA regarding family friendly clauses that Vera was instrumental in having included as part of the Agreement. Vera detailed that one of the outstanding issues was Ausgrid management refusing to accept a proposition for paid leave in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth situations. As a result, the following motion was unanimously endorsed;

The combined unions require that Ausgrid include a cessation of pregnancy clause in the enterprise agreement to protect workers facing situations of miscarriage or stillbirth. The cessation of pregnancy clause should provide that paid parental leave applies to pregnancies that pass 12 weeks’ gestation. The clause should also consider the application of compassionate leave to these situations. Ausgrid’s refusal to include a clause on cessation of pregnancy in the enterprise agreement is morally repugnant and unacceptable.

The resolution on 1 February regarding in principle agreement does not preclude further negotiations on gender equality issues raised by the PSA/CPSU. The combined unions support the claims of the PSA/CPSU and their resolution in the enterprise agreement.

Next Steps

Your negotiating team will now work to finalise the precise and final wording of all clauses including those associated with the CCR after which time another delegates meeting will be held to endorse the document and proceed towards a formal vote subject to final agreement between the parties.

During this period members will be availed of the complete package including the detailed and final CCR proposal.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members for their ongoing support and patience in what has been the most difficult and protracted Ausgrid negotiation in living memory. We would also like to thank all the delegates and in particular the negotiating committee in their tireless and intelligent effort which has significantly improved this agreement offer from was a totally unacceptable outcome to one which we believe does the job of moving us forward.

In Unity,

Mark Buttigieg - markb@etunsw.com.au

Update on Ausgrid negotiations, protected action and delegates’ meeting

Paul Lister - Thursday, January 18, 2018

After the recent 95% YES vote to take industrial action if required, to keep the action active we now must decide to take protected action within a 30-day window that ends on 9 February 2018. Accordingly, a delegates meeting on Wednesday 31 January will decide whether to proceed to industrial action or not based on the progress of Agreement negotiations to that date. In the meantime, a group of negotiating delegates and myself continues intensive discussions with Ausgrid in a bid to obtain a negotiated outcome. The major outstanding issues are:

CCR: Reform of Ausgrid’s career capability and remuneration scheme to the point where we are satisfied with the following areas:

  • rates of pay
  • merit appointment hurdles,
  • the allocation of skills sets to various classifications bands and how that will be negotiated over the next 12 months prior to implementation.
  • The nature of “exceeding expectations” as a criterion for skills progression and how that will be negotiated over the next 12 months prior to implementation.

Wage rises: The combined unions demand remains 3% per annum. Averaged over the seven years between the last wage rise and the proposed end of this agreement, this equates to just 1.28% per annum. Our claim is very modest when compared to the average 5.3% pay rise and $50,000 bonuses that Ausgrid executives paid themselves annually over the past four years.

We will report back on the progress of these negotiations next week or early the week after. In the meantime, all delegates should attend the very important meeting to be held on Wednesday 31 January, the time and location of this meeting will be advised in due course. The meeting will discuss one of two things;

  • An in-principle Agreement package for delegates to authorise the negotiating committee to finalise or
  • the type and quantity of industrial actions to be taken.

Either way the matter will be brought to a head once and for all.

In Unity,

Overwhelming Vote Authorises Protected Action

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Almost all combined union members at Ausgrid who participated in the Protected Action Ballot have voted ‘YES’ to authorise all listed industrial actions.

The Australian Electoral Commission declared the result this afternoon. A strong turnout produced almost 95 per cent support for all three sets of industrial action. The clock is now ticking for Ausgrid management to improve the current EBA offer or face widespread industrial action.

The vote opens a 30-day window for union members at Ausgrid to take protected industrial action, which if taken may be used until an outcome is secured. If management fails to make an acceptable offer, combined delegates will meet on Wednesday 31 January to decide specific actions.

The major obstacles to agreement are:

  1. Employees have rejected Ausgrid’s proposed Capability and Remuneration scheme (CCR) because, unless modified, the CCR severely limits career paths with future employees set to receive lower rates of pay.
  2. Inadequate wage rises – Ausgrid’s offer remains: Year 1, 2.5% plus one-off $1,000 sign-on bonus; Year 2, 2.5%; Year 3, 2%. Years 2 and 3 are contingent on agreement to implement the CCR. The combined unions position remains a modest 3% annual pay increase. While workers’ wages have been frozen for four years, Ausgrid executives enjoyed average bonuses exceeding $50,000 each in 2014, 2015 and 2016 on top of annual pay increases averaging 5.3%.

Congratulations to all union members for your strong stand in this protected action ballot. Management must now respond, or they will face an escalated employee campaign.

In Unity,
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au


Peter Moss - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Members should have received ballot papers from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Ausgrid Agreement bargaining protected action vote. The ballot closes on Monday 8th January. Given the Christmas break now is realistically the last chance members will have to exercise their vote. Tick yes to all three categories of questions on the ballot paper and return it immediately via post or a workplace delegate:

1. Fill in your ballot paper by ticking yes to all three questions.

2. Put your ballot paper in the declaration envelope and seal it.

3. Sign the voter’s declaration on the declaration envelope.

4. Place the declaration envelope in to the reply-paid envelope and post it immediately.

If for some reason you do not have the reply-paid envelope you can place the completed declaration envelope inside a normal envelope (no need for a stamp) and address it to;

Australian Electoral Commission
Reply Paid 1326
Haymarket NSW 1239.

If you are unable to get to a post box – give the sealed envelope to your work place delegate who will post it on your behalf. If you have any issues with your voting papers call the AEC on 9375 6361.

While we continue to have productive discussions with Ausgrid over the Career capability and Remuneration scheme (CCR) we must retain the option to take protected industrial action in case we cannot negotiate an acceptable outcome. To achieve this - all members should vote yes to all the questions and return the ballot papers ASAP. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all members a very happy and relaxing Christmas and thank you for your support during the year.

Mark Buttigieg
0417 208 447


Peter Moss - Friday, December 15, 2017

More than 2,600 Essential Energy workers will celebrate the New Year with a 2% pay rise.

The increase is the first of four now locked in after ETU members overwhelmingly approved their new enterprise agreement today.

More than 96 per cent of employees who voted gave the thumbs up to a 3.5 year EBA.

The deal will deliver total increases of between 7%-8.25% while maintaining all existing conditions.

ETU Assistant Secretary Justin Page welcomed the strong turnout and huge ‘yes’ vote.

‘This agreement delivers modest pay rises and job security without trading off the conditions we have,’ said Justin.

‘It was achieved without industrial action and is wrapped up before the current EBA expires.

‘That’s great news for our members at Essential Energy. No-one deserves a pay rise more than these workers.’

Justin thanked ETU delegates for negotiating the agreement.

‘This positive outcome is the result our delegates’ hard work and dedication. At depots across NSW, ETU delegates are the heart and soul of the union.


Bruce Fan - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ausgrid Protected Action Ballot

Members will this week receive ballot papers from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Ausgrid Agreement bargaining protected action vote. The ballot is open to all union members and is being conducted for us to have the legal right to take protected industrial action should thatbecome necessary.

Given that Christmas holidays are upon us it is critically important that all members exercise their vote immediately by ticking yes to all three categories of questions on the ballot paper and returning it via post or a workplace delegate;

  1. Fill in your ballot paper by ticking yes to all three questions.
  2. Put your ballot paper in the declaration envelope and seal it.    
  3. Sign the voter’s declaration on the declaration envelope.
  4. Place the declaration envelope in to the reply-paid envelope and post it immediately.

If you are unable to get to a post box – give the sealed envelope to your work place delegate who will post it on your behalf.

Important: If ongoing discussions do not result in what we think is an acceptable package to put to delegates and members, then we must send Ausgrid a clear message that we mean business by taking protected industrial action. To achieve this - all members should vote yes to all the questions and return the ballot papers ASAP.