Joining the Union as an apprentice

The Electrical Trades Union of Australia (or ETU) is a collective of over 60,000 electrical workers who are members of a trade union. We work together to improve the pay and working conditions of our trade and have been around for over 100 years. Our highly skilled officials campaign alongside workers to raise your wages, improve your working conditions, demand safe workplaces, improve licensing, training and apprenticeships and advocate for social justice.

Why should apprentices join the ETU?

Starting your apprenticeship can be a daunting experience with unfamiliar people, terms, tools and concepts. The electrical industries offer a diverse and rewarding career, but sometimes it can be hard to know your rights, especially when you’re just starting out.

That’s where the ETU comes in. We’re there to support you, make sure you’re treated fairly and that you know what you should get paid and what your working conditions should be. Becoming an ETU member while you’re an apprentice is one of the best times to join.

Enter your details to join your local ETU/CEPU branch!

Better pay

Union members look out for each other, and we all work together to improve our pay and conditions over time. Trade union members negotiate their agreements together, and on average get paid 32% more than non union members.

If something isn’t adding up in your payslip or you’re getting underpaid, the Union can advocate on your behalf and make sure you get what you’re owed.

The power to do something

As you move throughout your career you’ll experience good and bad employers and companies. You may feel like your employer doesn’t care about your rights or your safety, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

If you join the ETU however, you’ll have the support of thousands of members around Australia in standing up for your rights. By working together, we can deliver a better future.

Protect your qualifications

The ETU represents electrical apprentices on many training, electrical licensing and standards committees throughout Australia. We want to ensure you get the most out of your apprenticeship and work safely while earning wages. We recognise the skills needed to be an electrician and have won better conditions and wages for electricians and apprentices in hundreds of agreements that we have negotiated around the country. 

Know your rights

Often apprentices are misled, vulnerable to exploitation and aren’t aware of their rights. One of the most common misconceptions is that electrical apprentices have to pay for their own TAFE fees and textbooks. This is simply not true.

The ETU has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for our apprentice members in unpaid entitlements.

Adult Apprentices

Mature-aged or adult apprentices often have more responsibilities than a younger worker. You may have children, a mortgage and more bills to pay. The ETU actively campaigned to get the award wage for first-year adult apprentices increased from $289 per week in 2012 to where it is now at over $790 per week. All union-endorsed EBAs offer higher rates for apprentices, including adult apprentices. 

What are your rights and obligations ?

Your employer must:

  • provide structured training
  • maintain a safe workplace free of bullying and discrimination
  • pay the right wages and conditions
  • allow you to attend TAFE or other RTO and pay for your time there
  • reimburse you for the costs of training including text books and TAFE or other RTO fees
  • allow you to have breaks: a 30-60 min lunch break, a 10-min break between starting work and lunch and a 20-min paid break for every four hours of overtime worked
  • sign you up to a training contract usually within 2-4 weeks of beginning an apprenticeship but no longer than three months.

Employees must:

  • be available for work
  • attend Trade School
  • be on time
  • work safely
  • have the right to refuse overtime if it impacts on your health and safety or family life.

Do I have to tell my boss I’m in the union? 

Not at all. However, ETU members have a long history of backing each other up and being proud to be part of a strong fighting union. If you wanted to remain anonymous that’s fine too.

Want to find out more about joining from your state branch? Follow the link to contact your local ETU office below:

ETU Victoria





CEPU Tasmania

For more information on your rights give the Union a call. If you are a member the ETU/CEPU can represent and help you with a number of issues such as wage claims, unfair dismissals, harassment or bullying and safety concerns.

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