Safety Rights and Representation

In September 2023 National management contacted members to say that Perth was the last hub that still had a separation of technical and non-technical roles, and that the Perth Hub will now move to be in alignment with the rest of the hubs, where the hub is the work group and the HSR (Health and Safety Representative) represents all staff in the hub.

Members asked for clarification and if management were in fact proposing to change the HSR and DWG (Designated Working Group) structures without negotiation and agreement between the employer and employees.  

The National HS&E manager responded that they recalled that at a previous WSC (Work Safety Committee) meeting, that all hubs being identified as a single work group and Perth was the last to be aligned to that structure.

Members pushed back and requested the minutes of the meeting where this was agreed. Members did not receive any minutes or information confirming the proposed change had been discussed.

No matter what decisions had been made elsewhere within the organisation, the actual work group can make the decision around the HSR’s required to represent the work group based upon roles and tasks – as described in the Work Health and Safety Act.

In March 2024, with the support of their direct manager members held a meeting of the work group with the National management and the ETU National organiser. Both points of view were put forward. Members explained how the arrangement they had worked well for their work group. A work group where one cohort of staff hold restricted electrical licences and work on radars and another cohort focuses on other technical areas not involving electricity and they work remotely and travel great distances. Members believe the hazards in these different areas require different knowledge and skill sets for and require the workers to be represented by HSR’s who have a clear understanding of the different types of work taking place.

Next workers will vote to choose how many HSR’s represent them with the structure of a HSR and Deputy in each role as one of the options.

It’s crucially important that workers are aware of their rights and rights to representation when it comes to work health and safety. And that workers stand together, in their union to ensure they are being properly represented, and their safety is maintained and continues to improve.

This article was publised on 28 March 2024.