Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Ausgrid & Endeavour Energy Safety Alerts

Paul Lister - Thursday, September 05, 2013

Following the fatality of an Essential Energy worker on Monday 2 September, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy have issued the following Safety Alerts:

Ausgrid Safety Alert 13-14_007 OH Conductors

Endeavour Energy Safety Alert 33/13 Temporary Suspension, Bare OH Conductors

Members should read the above safety notices however the union reminds all members that we have issued a uniform Safety Ban for ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members across all electricity distributors.

ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.

ETU Safety Ban

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

As a result of the fatal electrical incident at Essential Energy on the 2nd September 2013, ALL ETU NSW (& ACT) members are advised that there are safety bans on the following work;
The restringing, re-tensioning or removal of overhead conductors where there are energised circuits either above or below the circuit being worked on.
Any restringing, re-tensioning or removal of conductors should only be completed where the circuits are de-energised and under an Access Permit where required.

If you have any questions in relation to this notice as outlined above please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser.

Essential Energy Fatality - Update

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Following is an update following yesterday’s fatality at Essential Energy. Members are advised that the worker was a 47 year old father of three from the Bulahdelah depot. A husband and colleague that set off to work in the morning and never came home.
It would appear that an out of service conductor became energized whilst the employee was assisting with it's removal. An energized HV circuit was located above the out of service conductor being worked on.
As advised in our previous safety alert there will be several investigations into this incident before we know exactly what went wrong. Essential Energy and WorkCover are both currently investigating this incident however it is also possible that this incident will be investigated by the Police or Coroner.
Your union has written to Vince Graham seeking answers to a list of questions that we have relating to this incident and we would expect that this matter get his full attention as a matter of urgency.
The ETU will also be redoubling our efforts to have Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) rolled out across our workplaces to ensure that if something does go horribly wrong then you have the best possible chance at surviving to see your family again.
If you have any questions in relation to this notice please talk to your workplace delegate or your ETU organiser. It is important that we all look out for each other because if we don’t look out for each other no one will.
The ETU has issued a Safety Ban to all members and we request that you observe these restrictions for your own safety.

Essential Energy Fatality

Paul Lister - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

You may have read in the news or heard through industry channels that yesterday an Essential Energy employee was fatally injured after coming into contact with live conductors. The incident occurred at 10.30am near Foster with ambulance crews unable to revive the employee.
Upon hearing of the incident ETU Secretary Steve Butler and Organiser Brad McDougall travelled to Foster where both WorkCover and Essential Energy have commenced investigations. Our thoughts are with the workers family and colleagues at this time and we will keep members informed of any matters arising from this tragic incident.
Click here to read the Essential Energy Safety Alert which provides additional context to this incident, members should read this notice and follow any advice/directions.

ETU Secure Apprentice Wage Increases

Paul Lister - Monday, August 26, 2013

The ETU was instrumental in the recent decision by Fair Work Australia to award significant increases to apprentice award rates of pay. The decision handed down on Thursday 22 August was the culmination of months of hard work coordinated and run by the ETU National Office.

In summary the key points covering the Electrical Contracting Award include:

  • Junior First year rate with year 12  - increased from 40% to 55% of trade
  • Junior Second year rate with year 12 - 52% to 65% of trade
  • Junior Third and Fourth year rates - unchanged (70% and 82% of trade)
  • Adult First year rate - 80% of trade
  • Adult Second year rate - minimum wage
  • Adult Third & Fourth year rate - the higher of the minimum wage or the junior rate

This decision represents a 37.5% pay rise for first year apprentices with year 12 (the rate is set at 50% of trades for first year apprentices without year 12) and we now have adult apprentices rates permanently and nationally.

Due to the size of these increases, there will be a 2 year phasing in period.

A copy of the full decision is available here.

Electrical Licence Update

Paul Lister - Monday, August 26, 2013

The CEPU has raised serious concerns over proposed changes to electrical licenses with the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

After hearing the CEPU's concerns the PM has written to the union and advised that his Government will not agree to any National Occupational Licensing reform that dilutes existing electrical, plumbing, mechanical, refrigeration, or fire protection services licenses that may compromise community safety and consumer protection.

In his letter Prime Minister Rudd goes on to say that the Government will only proceed with there is agreement reached with all stake holders including the CEPU, employer associations and industry skills councils.

You can read the full letter here.

Product Recall - Faulty Electrical Cables

Paul Lister - Monday, August 26, 2013

NSW Fair Trading has negotiated with the Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd for the recall of three batches of *Infinity* brand insulated electrical cables. The cables are Thermoplastic Sheathed electric cable - commonly known as TPS.

The specific cable is 2.5mm "Polymeric Insulated Electrical Cable which is PVC Sheathed, PVC Insulated, Flat and Flexible Low Voltage Electrical Cable" also commonly known as "TPS 2.5mm Twin and Earth" (ThermoPlastic Sheathed Electrical Cable, active, neutral and earth). The batch numbers being recalled are INFH 190311, INFH 210912 and INFMEL 081112.

The cables that are the subject of the recall have been subjected to laboratory testing commissioned by NSW Fair Trading and conducted by TUV Rheinland in Victoria. The sample submitted for testing by NSW Fair Trading failed the commissioned tests against AS/NZ 5000.2:2006 and relevant parts of AS/NZ 3808. The testing failure indicates that the plastic coating insulation on the cable can become brittle when exposed to high temperatures over time whether through exposure to heat generated by the copper wire itself or through exposure to external heat such as if it is used in the roof of homes in warmer parts of NSW.

Information provided to Fair Trading is that the product has been stocked in NSW for about one year.  NSW Fair Trading has been in contact with electrical safety regulators around Australia and advised them of the concerns regarding this cable. NSW Fair Trading believes that the cable may also be sold in other States and Territories. Fair Trading has no information that any incidents or injuries to people or property has resulted from the cable. However, given the cable batches have failed essential safety tests the recall is needed to prevent possible future problems.  

The company is publishing recall notices in newspapers and writing to everyone they have sold the cable to requesting them to return the recalled batches of cable to the place of sale.The company has agreed to provide information to Fair Trading concerning the importation and sale of the recalled batches of cable and to provide ongoing reports to Fair Trading of the recall and disposal of the affected cables.

Fair Trading will be issuing a media release regarding the recall in addition to the company*s own recall notices. Our advice will of course be that consumers should not try to inspect the cable and that any work on wiring or cable should only be done by licensed electricians. We will also recommend to consumers that if they have recently had building work done, or wiring changed or installed, they should contact the responsible builder or electrician for advice on whether the recalled cable was used. If it was, we will recommend that they talk to the builder or electrician about getting the cable inspected and replaced.

It would be appreciated if you could make your members and stakeholders aware of this recall through your own communication channels and networks. The formal information that you could direct people towards will be on the Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

Eastern Tree Service EA Talks to Commence

Paul Lister - Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Negotiations for the Eastern Tree Service EBA will kick off next Friday 16th August at Murwillumbah. Updates posted on the ETU website after the meeting.

All enquiries please call ETU Organiser Geoff Prime 0416 060 955.

ETU takes Action over Ausgrid Contestable Metering Decision

Paul Lister - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Last week Ausgrid announced it had made a decision to investigate Market Interest in the Sale of Contestable Metering Business. The ETU and affected employees took exception to the manner in which Ausgrid notified employees and Unions and the media of its decision. The ETU questioned Ausgrid’s commitment to the new Consultation provisions in the new Agreement.

The ETU lodged a dispute in the Fair Work Commission and the matter was heard today before SDP Hamberger. The ETU argued that Ausgrid had not followed the proper consultative mechanisms within the agreement and believe Ausgrid has already made a decision to sell off Contestable Metering.

The Outcome

  • Ausgrid maintained a “final decision” to sell Contestable Metering has not been made.
  • The parties agreed that the protocols around raising items for consultation can be improved.
  • Ausgrid committed to consult on all 4 options around Contestable Metering
      Maintain Status Quo
      Grow the Business
      Exit the Business via wind down (non-renewal of contracts)
      Investigate market interest in potential sale
  • The Peak Consultative Committee (PCC) is the forum to deal with this issue.
  • The next PCC will deal with the process of consultation, the timetable for consultation, employee representatives to be involved, taking into account the circumstances and complexities of the issue.
  • Ausgrid committed to outline those employees that are directly affected by this issue.

SDP Hamberger’s comments included that a cost benefit could be undertaken for all 4 option so employees and the Unions could understand the decision making process of Ausgrid once a final decision is made.

The ETU will be working with the Metering Delegates,  members and other Unions to identify all the issues, elect representatives to be involved  in the consultative process and provide feedback to members throughout this process.

Redmond Gary EWP Incident

Paul Lister - Monday, July 22, 2013

All members are encouraged to read the Incident Report issues by Redmond Gary.