Since late 2020, the WA Branch of the ETU has fought hard on behalf of Electrical apprentices to win back wages stolen by some of the biggest companies in the state.
The WA Branch has been very successful, returning over $140K in wage claims to apprentices.
Companies tried to siphon money off our youngest members in the following ways:
- paying some apprentices junior rates when they were entitled to mature age rates
- failing to pass on legislated increases to the minimum award rates for apprentices
- paying a working away allowance that was less than the minimum in the award
- not paying working at height allowances despite apprentices working at heights
- paying apprentice rates when the worker should have been paid as a trades assistant
- paying below the award base rate of pay for apprentices.
In many instances, it just took one apprentice contacting the ETU for us to then uncover systematic underpayments within a whole company. Once we undertook investigations, we approached the companies to resolve the underpayment or commence legal proceedings to recover the monies owed to the apprentices.
“These examples show us two things; One: Even large companies will try to rip off workers, especially apprentices if they think they can get away with it. Two: it pays to belong to your Union,” said Ash Bamford, ETU Northwest and apprentice organiser.
“It’s not always easy to know when you’re being treated unfairly, or to stand up for yourself when you’re an apprentice. It’s the best time to be a part of the Union and know that you have that support and knowledge there to back you when you need it,” said Mark Burgess, ETU national apprentice officer.
“If you have apprentice mates at work who aren’t part of the Union, encourage them to join up. We’re all stronger together,” he said.
Check the current minimum award rates for apprentices here.
Make sure to contact the union if you think you’re not being paid correctly.