Engineering and contracting delegates come together on the Voice, licensing and the scourge of silicosis

ETU and CEPU delegates, organisers and officials got together last week to share ideas on how to improve conditions, safety and wages in the contracting and engineering sectors.

The two-day conference, held in Adelaide, focused on issues such as protecting our licensing, qualifications and training systems, supporting the ‘Yes’ vote for the Voice referendum and protecting workers against the dangers of deadly silica dust.

Protecting licensing, qualifications and training systems in the rail industry

Delegates in the engineering sector discussed recent efforts by some rail affiliated organisations to undermine our electrical trade certificates, licencing and apprenticeship system. To tackle this issue they suggested that all branches adopt a policy of including classifications, competencies and means of progression of either the Manufacturing and Associated Industry Award or the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award (whichever is most applicable to infrastructure or rolling stock). This would be included in all logs of claim and negotiations as a non-negotiable item, and any agreement that doesn’t meet this demand should not be supported.

Constitutional Recognition of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Conference attendees discussed the fact that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament is a moderate and very reasonable objective, and the very least that modern Australia can offer a people and culture whose history extends more than 65,000 years. It is a measure of simple respect and is completely consistent with union values of respect, recognition, justice and consultation on shared interests.

The conference voted up a resolution, moved by CEPU SA State Councillor, delegate and Kokatha man Daniel Ramm, to do everything in its power to support a successful YES campaign and ensure a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Silica dust

Delegates in the contracting sector discussed the dangers of silica dust, and the need to protect workers from this deadly substance. They suggested a nationally developed Silica Dust Control Plan could be put to Each branch to then be adopted or adapted at a state level.

It was a fantastic conference bringing together like-minded ETU and CEPU representatives from all over Australia to collaborate on issues affecting their sectors nationally. On top of these resolutions, delegates and organisers had a session with Mates in Construction on suicide prevention General Awareness training, a briefing on the new Fair Work Act amendments from National Industrial Officer Yolla Abousleiman, and an overview of current government policies such as Rewiring the Nation and Powering Australia plus our Union’s focuses in 2023 from ETU Acting National Secretary Michael Wright.  Michael Ats, the principal from Lieschke and Weatherill lawyers also gave a breakdown on medicinal Cannabis and testing regimes.

Thank you to all who attended and contributed their voices to the discussions. Together we will tackle these issues, and we won’t stop until we win!

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This article was publised on 24 May 2023.