Ash “Moose” Bamford, WA's Apprentice Organiser, shares the story of how the union has been looking out for apprentice members impacted by the crisis, tracking down secure work despite the failure of many employers to cooperate.
With the sudden onset of COVID19 restrictions a number of our apprentice members found themselves out of work and left wondering how they would complete their apprenticeship.
Group training Organisations (GTOs) have been the worst affected. They have been all too happy to stand down/suspend apprentices, force use of their leave entitlements and wait on the Union movement to lobby the Government for the JobKeeper payment.
In some instances, they’ve used it to target our members and apply to have their training contracts suspended.
They say that a pandemic brings out the best and worst in people. We approached the GTOs and employer groups numerous times to offer our assistance. These requests were denied, all whilst more and more apprentices from all over the industry were finding themselves out of work.
We were not surprised by the lack of cooperation from the likes of NECA and EGT. So as always, we pushed forward on our own to help get these apprentices back to work in the industry.
We approached Bill Johnston MP to help address our concerns and see what his office could do to help transfer our apprentice members into secure apprenticeships within Government Trading Entities (GTEs). His office has been very helpful in expediting the whole process.
Western Power was the first GTE to contact us, they have been able to accommodate 5 of our members who have found themselves out of work. They have also gone one step further and agreed to take on these apprentices as direct employees for the remainder of their apprenticeships. Most of these apprentices, although members, have not yet experienced the full benefits that come with secure employment, a decent employer, and a Union EBA, let alone one as good as Western Power’s.
We wish them all the best and thank them for contacting us when we put the call out.
As this develops further, we continue to have discussions with other GTEs to look for secure employment for our apprentice members who are out of work during this time, including those who live in regional areas.
- Ash “Moose” Bamford
WA Apprentice Organiser