ECM, one of the largest electrical contracting companies in WA went bankrupt in 2019, leaving 400 workers with unpaid wages and entitlements.
When businesses go bankrupt, workers in this position find themselves at the mercy of the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG) scheme.
The ECM workers were entitled to a redundancy payment, but FEG tried to deny this to the workers.
This didn’t seem right to our members, so the ETU got involved and started investigating.
WA Branch lead organiser Ian Gill teamed up with legal expert and National Assistant Secretary Michael Wright, and they discovered that the contracts were not fixed term at all.
It took a year of legal work challenging the FEG decision that went as far as the Attorney General’s Office, but the ETU won. In the end hundreds of our members were paid their notice in lieu of termination and their redundancy with the total bill adding up to more than a million dollars.
“This is particularly important while we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Many people are struggling financially so having a bit of extra money in their pockets to help tide them over is a really good outcome,” said Mr Wright.
ETU State Secretary, Peter Carter, said it shows how vital unions are.
“This is a prime example of why being part of a union is so important. If you know others in your workplace that aren’t part of a union, please encourage them to join,” he said.
Power in a union comrades!