The importance of expressly appointing the Union as your bargaining representative

Recently, members at Downer EDI Engineering Power in WA learned why it is so important to expressly appoint the Union as their bargaining representative.

Downer tried to bypass negotiating with the Union and get an Enterprise Agreement (EA) approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) without even notifying the ETU, even though we had expressly been appointed as a bargaining representative by several members. 

“The proposed EA would have locked our members in for four years on subpar wages with no guarantee of wage increases,” said ETU Northwest Organiser, Ash Bamford.

We got wind of it and approached the FWC to be heard in relation to the approval application. The FWC granted us permission to be heard and, almost instantly, Downer contacted us “apologising for the oversight”, withdrawing the application and agreeing to bargain with us.

“We likely wouldn’t have had this success if our members hadn’t specifically appointed us as their representative as opposed to relying on us being their default rep so it’s a good lesson for members to go to the effort of expressly appointing us,” said ETU National Counsel, Cassandra Taylor.

“Downer’s poorly drafted and rushed EA with below-market rates and conditions highlights the need for all workers to have the ETU involved when it comes to negotiations to ensure that they get a fair deal,” said Ash.

This article was publised on 26 November 2021.