ETU members stand tall and win their day’s pay after being illegally stood down

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Friday, 31 May 2019

Electrical Trades Union members have had a big win after their employer stood workers down without pay for wearing union clothing during a bargaining period on one of Australia’s biggest infrastructure projects.

ETU members employed with electrical contractor Fredon Industries on the NorthConnex­ project, a $2.9 billion Lend Lease-Bouygues Construction joint venture in Sydney’s northwest, were sent home without pay on Wednesday 29 May because they were wearing and displaying union-related material.

The workers were initially stood down without pay for displaying union-related material and taking two meal breaks during their shift as part of barg­aining for the Sydney Construction Union Enterprise Agreement negotiations.

However, after it was made clear the employer’s actions would be in breach of the Fair Work Act, Fredon relented and agreed to pay all workers in full for the day.

ETU National Legal Counsel Alana Heffernan said it was right that Fredon backed down and paid their workers what they were owed.

“Fredon knew it was wrong to have sent workers home without pay because they were exercising their right to wear union-related clothing,” she said.

“We have been in EBA negotiations with Fredon and others for some time and the ETU and its members did everything right in notifying Fredon about plans to wear union-affiliated clothing.

“The ETU had to remind Fredon of this right and point to similar matters brought before the courts which show our members were in the right”.

“It’s right Fredon agreed to pay these workers the full day’s pay for improperly standing them down, but the ETU asserts they should not have overstepped in the first place.”

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said the union and its members have been in negotiations with several Sydney electrical contractors that, at times, have shown nothing but contempt for their employees and their union representatives.

“This is a big win for our members who were legally showing their union pride only to be improperly sent home without pay,” Mr Hicks said.

“We’ve endured every dirty trick in the book during these negotiations, including companies forming a cartel to stand as one against our members and planting spies in our closed-door meetings.

“What this shows is that when workers stand together, with their union behind them, intimidation does not work.

“Being in a union gets results and we’re proud our members stood tall against their bosses’ bullying and wore their union pride in the face of improper threats of lost income.

“I’m proud of our members and I’m proud of our union because we keep fighting and winning against every dirty trick these companies pull.”

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