Prior planning, strategic engagement and steely resolve provides premium outcomes at Energy Queensland and Powerlink. 

Assistant State Secretary Stuey Traill takes up the story. 

“ETU members at Energy Queensland and Powerlink were forced to take protected industrial action for the first time in 15 years due to stalled negotiations. Both employers had been consistently hiding behind the government’s wages policy instead of resolving the genuine attraction and retention claims. Powerlink was particularly recalcitrant in their approach to negotiations, nothing we haven’t seen before.”  

Negotiations for the new agreements began in August last year, by the end of the year members were rightly frustrated with the lack of any real progress while they saw more and more of their colleagues leaving the industry for better pay elsewhere. At mass membership meetings held from the Cape to Coolangatta in December, the message was clear. “We are ready to stand up and be counted.”  

“The response to the protected action ballot was outstanding across both Powerlink, with a 93% return and a minimum of 95% in favour of all action and EQL with a 92% return and 98% voting in favour of all actions. These results sent a clear message that ETU members were committed to sticking together and taking action to achieve what they rightfully deserved.” Stuey said. 

When the industrial campaign ramped up to a 24 hour stoppage the momentum shifted to direct action, more than 1000 members and supporters turned up to organised rallies outside state MP offices across the state.   

“The campaign was having the desired effect, pledges were signed by many MPs including the Energy Minister (pictured), Treasurer, and the Premier. Media reports highlighted the key issues at stake, putting EQL and Powerlink in a position where they had to negotiate on our key outstanding claims.” 

“This campaign has delivered industry standard wages, with increases of up to 40% over four years, but just as importantly, it delivered industry leading conditions such as income protection, 14.75% superannuation, 10 days mental health leave,10 days reproductive leave, improved parental leave, ability to accrue unused reproductive leave, apprentice wages set at 60% for 1st year, 70% 2nd year, 80% 3rd year of the trade rate, overtime at double time, and the list goes on. When it comes to recruiting for unfilled vacancies across the industry this EBA will go a long way to addressing the critical attraction and retention issues.” Stuey said. 

Stuey paid tribute to the ETU negotiating team that argued and led the charge. “I want to personally thank all the delegates who assisted during negotiations. Your commitment to delivering positive outcomes for our members is second to none.” 

Membership growth has been impressive 20% over the last 12 months, it’s clear that workers want to join our union because they know we will stand up, stick together, and fight if need be. This campaign has clearly demonstrated that when we organise and act collectively, we win. 

This article was publised on 30 April 2024.