Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

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,
MARK BUTTIGIEG

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,
MARK BUTTIGIEG   
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

NOTICE TO MEMBERS: AUSGRID PROTECTED ACTION BALLOT

Peter Moss - Thursday, December 21, 2017
21/12/2017

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
Markb@etunsw.asn.au


NOTICE TO MEMBERS - 13 December

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.

Ausgrid protected action ballot

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Please find latest Ausgrid video update for instructions on completing the Ausgrid protected action ballot ASAP - which members will be receiving now.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417208447.

 

Ausgrid Update - 30 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Members will be mailed ballot papers next week for a vote to authorise protected industrial action – it is essential that all ETU members complete the ballot and vote ‘YES’ to every proposed action.

Only a strong majority ‘YES’ vote to every action will enable us to campaign effectively for an acceptable agreement, in the event that matters cannot be resolved in negotiations.

A clear, united “YES’ vote will send a powerful message to Ausgrid management that we are serious about achieving a fair outcome and will back our words with action, if required.

Your ETU negotiators will of course continue to do everything possible to achieve an acceptable result via negotiation. As I write this today, we have reached in-principle agreement on six items. However, two major issues remain outstanding.

Six items agreed in principle, but two key matters unresolved
 
Negotiations have continued this week with in principle agreement on the following major items:

  1. Consultation Clause.
  2. Dispute Settlement Procedure Clause.
  3. Redeployee incentive. On certification of the Agreement, for all redeployees a one off $75,000 incentive payment with a three-week acceptance period after which time the offer is withdrawn.
  4. As at 1 July 2020 a cap of 250 on the number of redeployees that can be made forcibly redundant at the end of the job guarantee period. In other words, Ausgrid can make forcibly redundant up to 250 remaining redeployees as at 1 July 2020.
  5. From 1 July 2020 an ongoing “global” annual cap of 250 to apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies.
  6. An Annual Apprentice intake.

Remaining Major outstanding items

  1. Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme. We are in the process of making sure that any discrepancy between the current skills structure pay rates and the proposed CCR pay rates does not result in any structural long term pay disadvantages as people progress through their career. The nature of how that progression through a career is determined, is also being negotiated.
  2. Pay Rise: Ausgrid’s position remains; 2.5% year 1 plus a one off $1,000 sign on bonus, 2.5% in year 2 and 2% in year 3 (contingent on agreeing to the CCR). The ETU’s position remains 3% per annum, this is not unreasonable given the three to four year wage freeze.

The Protected Action Ballot Timetable

The Fair Work Commission has approved the conducting of a ballot of members for the right to take protected industrial action. We expect ballot papers to begin arriving at members addresses from Monday 11 December.

It is critical that on receiving the ballot papers that all members vote and return the ballots as soon as they receive the ballot papers.

Please ensure that you register a yes vote to all the questions so that the ballot result is effective. Members can either post back the ballot or give them back to their local workplace delegate who will post them.
 
While we continue to negotiate with Ausgrid on the outstanding matters outlined above, it is important for members to understand that these matters are part of a total package. If we are unable to resolve the outstanding issues, then we will proceed to a concerted industrial and political campaign to achieve an outcome which is acceptable to members.
 
In Unity,
 
MARK BUTTIGIEG   
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

Ausgrid EBA Update - 23 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 23, 2017

The combined unions continue to edge closer to an agreement with discussions continuing around annual pay increases in the new agreement and the proposed career progression structure, excluding these two items the ETU believes we are moving closer to an agreement providing these items can be resolved.

The application for protected industrial action has been lodged with the Fair Work Commission and we await a response and order permitting this action - this course of action will be pursued if necessary and we will keep members updated. Below is a video update from ETU Organiser Mark Buttigieg.

 

Ausgrid EBA Update - 17 November

Bruce Fan - Friday, November 17, 2017

In two days of extensive meetings this week between union officials, the broader negotiating committee and Ausgrid management, in principle agreement has been reached in three out of the six areas of major contention;

  1. Consultation Clause; Is almost to the point where the draft wording is agreed on.
  2. Dispute Settlement Procedure Clause; Is almost to the point where the draft wording is agreed on.
  3. Contracting Out Clause; Drafting of this clause is yet to be completed but the principles of that clause are agreed on.

While some progress has been made in areas 4. and 5. below, there is still a significant amount of work to do to bring the two positions closer together;

  1. A post 1 July 2020 “global” redundancy cap which would apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies and a credible mechanism to prevent Ausgrid “stockpiling” redeployees prior to 1 July 2020.
  2. Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme. There are issues to be resolved pertaining to future career progression pay rates, consultation provisions for any significant reduction in numbers of each band required within each work group and the consultative mechanism for determining how people would be judged to have “met” or “exceeded” expectations.
  3. Pay Rise; Ausgrid’s position remains; 2.5% year 1 with 2% in years 2 and 2% in year 3 (contingent on agreeing on CCR). The ETU’s position remains 3% per annum.

In the meantime, an application was today lodged with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for the right to ballot our members for protected industrial action. Whilst we are hopeful more progress will be made next week in schedule negotiations, members should be under no illusion about our resolve to push ahead with a full scale industrial and political campaign should we not be able to reach agreement on the above issues.

Change the Rules Rally - 16 November

Paul Lister - Monday, November 13, 2017

Join us 11.30am Thursday 16 November - Belmore Park, Sydney (near Central Station).

Ausgrid EBA Update - 10 November

Paul Lister - Friday, November 10, 2017

On Tuesday this week the combined union officials attended another meeting with Ausgrid management to work on progressing the agreement. The results of that meeting and the two prior ones were reported to the negotiating committee the next day. The following points represent areas where we believe significant progress has been made.

  1. A Forced Redundancy provision applying from after 1 July 2020 (the end of the job protection legislation) with a Year 1 “global” cap (would apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies) of 300. Exercising of a redundancy program would be conditional on implementing a thorough Voluntary Redundancy EOI program first. If for example 150 people chose to exit the business voluntarily, Ausgrid would only be able to make forcibly redundant 150 in year 1.
  2. A contracting out clause which retains the current clause provisions but with the addition of an oversight committee to have input into Ausgrid’s preferred contractor panel selection.
  3. A Dispute Settlement Procedure which retains the current status quo provisions. There is still debate over how and when status quo would apply.
  4. A Consultation clause which has a criterion of triggering rigorous consultation when the proposed change can be shown to have a significant effect on employees.
  5. A Career, Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme which objectively recognizes skills and performance. There is still significant work to do in this area. The CCR negotiating subcommittee will reconvene next week to continue work on it in a bid to improve the outcomes for employees.
  6. A Three-year agreement. i.e. nominal expiry 3 years after the Agreement is certified by FWC.

Major outstanding issues include:

  • In the pre-job guarantee period (i.e. pre-1 July 2020) Ausgrid’s proposition is that there would be no limit to how many people Ausgrid can make redeployed. This is unacceptable because it would allow Ausgrid to stock-pile redeployees in anticipation of the 1 July 2020 date then exit these redeployees that would not count to the 300-year 1 cap.
  • Ausgrid’s desire to be able to direct redeployees in to what we say is non-meaningful work.
  • The cap that is to apply in years 2 and 3 after 1 July 2020.
  • Pay Rise – Ausgrid’s position is 2.5%, 2 %, 2% with no back pay. Combined unions position is 3%, 3% 3% with some back pay.

Further negotiating meetings are scheduled for next week when we will have further updates.

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