ETU National News
Three days before the US 'Thanks Giving' holiday – one of
the largest electric power corporations in the US, First Energy has
locked out 150 members of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA).
This Saturday, September 7, ETU members face a stark choice that will have a profound impact on all of our workplaces, families, and communities.
Talking to members around the country, I have heard many of you complain that you are disillusioned with Australian politics. Whether it’s the negative attacks, the meaningless slogans, or simply the noise of the election campaign, many people have shut off from the Federal Election.
But this election is extremely important for all of us. At its core we all have a choice to use our vote to protect workers rights, or to allow a shift that will give big business even more power.
Our union has a proud history, and through the tireless efforts of thousands of members around the country we have been able to deliver decent wages and conditions, safer workplaces, and vital increases to superannuation to provide a dignified retirement. All this is at risk if Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister this weekend.
Mr Abbott’s has made it clear that if elected, a Coalition government will follow the agenda of big business, rather than the interests of working people.
Before voting on Saturday, it is vital to remind ourselves, other ETU members, our families and our mates, exactly what Tony Abbott has promised to do if he becomes Prime Minister:
Australian tradies to benefit from Kevin Rudd’s plan to boost local opportunities from major projects
Major victory for apprentices as union campaign wins substantial pay rises, modernising trade training
Unions have celebrated substantial increases to apprentice wages as a major win in their campaign to modernise the apprentice system and make trade training more accessible.
The decision, handed down by Fair Work Australia at 2pm today, will deliver substantial pay increases to apprentices employed in building, electrical contracting, manufacturing and plumbing trades, as well creating higher pay rates for adult apprentices for the first time.
The pay rises will be transitioned over two years, with the wage of:
- a first year apprentice electrician who has completed year 12 jumping from $289 to $398 a week;
- a second year apprentice electrician who has completed year 12 climbing from $376 to $470 a week;
- a first year adult apprentice electrician, aged over 21 when commencing their trade, doubling from $289 to $579 a week;
- a second year adult apprentice electrician, aged over 21 when commencing their trade, leaping from $376 to $622 a week; and
- Third and fourth year adult apprentice electricians, aged over 21 when commencing their trade, moving to the higher of the minimum wage or the junior apprentice rates.
In handing down their joint decision, the Fair Work Commission emphasised that increased apprentice wages were a benefit for both apprentices and employees.
“We consider that such a differential is appropriate in setting a fair and relevant minimum safety net for apprentices and would recognise the benefits of having better educated and potentially more productive young people entering apprenticeships,” their written decision said.
The Electrical Trades Union said the decision had clearly been influenced by independent research — commissioned by the union as part of the Modern Award review process — that identified low pay rates as a major contributor to low retention rates, resulting in almost four in ten apprentices failing to complete their training.
“For too long our apprentice pay system has been a remnant of the 1950‘s, when those learning a trade were teenagers living at home with mum and dad,” ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said.
“Shifting demographics mean that today, more than a quarter of modern apprentices are aged over 25 when they enter the trade.
“The expert advice was clear. If we want to address skills shortages, make training appealing to employers, and ensure adult apprentices can afford to live while undergoing their trade training, we needed to improve retention rates by ensuring they receive a liveable wage.”
The Labor Government’s announcement today of an extra $500 million in support to 2020 for the automotive manufacturing industry has been welcomed by the Electrical Trades Union.
The NSW Branch of the ETU has been campaigning hard against electricity privatisation. NSW secretary Steve Butler has been meeting with NSW councils to discuss the impact that electricity privatisation will have on local jobs and electricity prices.
Coverage of these meetings on Prime7 can be watched at the links below:
You can also read about Steve Butler and Paul Lister's meeting with Tamworth Mayor Col Murray here:
The NSW ETU remains rightly concerned that Premier O'Farrell might sell off the 'poles and wires' of the state's transmission and distribution networks.
Let's not forget, the NSW Government has already been engaged in a fire sale of quality state assets. Macquarie Generation is the latest in a very long list of privatisations, including Newcastle Port, Port Botany, Port Kembla, the Sydney desalination plant, Sydney Ferries and many smaller asset sales.
NSW shouldn't be swapping ongoing revenue streams for one-off payments, particularly given the ongoing commitments made by the NSW Government to both the NDIS and Gonski reforms.
We've already seen Premier O'Farrell sell off Delta Energy - a company which delivers around $50 million in dividends to the State Government each year - for a fire sale price of just $160 million.
It hardly seems worth it. At a time when the focus is on the structural sustainability of state budgets, why would the NSW Government worsen it's position by giving up its stable revenue streams?
It's bad for the budget, bad for electricity prices, and bad for employment in regional areas, many of which are suffering from unemployment rates higher than the state average.
Whitsunday Times: 31 July
- FirstEnergy Locks Out Utility Workers in US
- Electrician killed whilst restoring power in the wake of typoon Haiyan
- ETU rejects “social privatisation” call: Asset sales bad for consumers, workers and government
- Letter to ETU members from our division secretary Allen Hicks: How will this election impact you?
- Australian tradies to benefit from Kevin Rudd’s plan to boost local opportunities from major projects
- Rudd backs safety concerns of key industry groups: Abbott urged to also put safety above politics
- Major victory for apprentices as union campaign wins substantial pay rises, modernising trade training
- ETU welcomes Labor Government’s plan to secure Australian automotive manufacturing industry
- NSW ETU continues to campaign against electricity privitisation
- Whitsunday Times: 29 power station jobs to go from Stanwell
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