Members of the Electrical Trades Union from Wagga Wagga, Deniliquin, Griffith, and Temora will take part in a series of meetings this week to kick off the nationwide campaign ‘Change the Rules’.
The campaign is demanding new workplace laws aimed at improving job security and pay for workers.
ETU delegate Steve McLean, who has been a member for 14 years, said the initiative was to “get a bit of fairness back”.
“We’re trying to change the rules as there’s been a shift in the balance towards employers,” Mr McLean said.
Similarly, fellow delegate Hamish Wheatley said they wanted to get employers to “start thinking about their workers”
“As well as removing restriction on wages that we have at the moment,” Mr Wheatley said.
“It’s something that’s holding back a lot of employees.”
As part of the campaign, ETU NSW secretary Dave McKinley is travelling across regional NSW to meet with members to discuss the campaign and to discuss industrial-relation matters that affect them.
“Our members know the system is broken, they have seen wages stagnate, job security reduced, penalty rates being cut, and big business using its increasing power to take more than its fair share,” Mr McKinley said.
“In recent years, our members at major businesses like Essential Energy have seen how employers can use the system to prevent them from getting a fair deal, with industrial action effectively banned, and the ability of management to threaten to rip up workplace agreements if workers don’t accept cuts to conditions.
“At the same time, redundancies, outsourcing, casualisation, and the growing use of labour hire have stripped away job security.”
At the same time, redundancies, outsourcing, casualisation, and the growing use of labour hire have stripped away job security.Dave McKinley, Electrical Trades Union NSW secretary
Mr McKinley said consumers were also losing out due to the growing power of big business.
“That’s why we are committed to campaigning to change the rules to give working people the basic rights they need to improve their living standards through more secure work and improved wages,” he said.
In response, an Essential Energy spokesperson said that the organisation successfully negotiated a new Enterprise Agreement with its employees and the relevant unions late last year “...which was settled ahead of schedule and provides four pay increases to employees during its three-and-a-half-year term.
“The first two per cent increase applied from January 1 this and a subsequent one per cent increase from July 1,” the spokesperson said.
“At the same time, Essential Energy appointed 25 apprentices this year and is currently recruiting a further 31 apprentices, including six Indigenous pre-employment trainees, as part of its 2019 intake.”
He said that since 2012, the organisation and its employees “have been continually transforming to improve efficiency and productivity and maintain downward pressure on network charges for customers, without compromising safety or reliability”.
“This has enabled real network charge decreases of 40 per cent today compared to 2012–13 for the typical residential customer,” the spokesperson said.
- Tuesday, August 21: Wagga RSL Club at 5.30pm.
- Wednesday, August 22: Griffith Exies Club at 6pm
- Wednesday, August 23: Essential Energy depot in Deniliquin at 7am
- Thursday, August 23: Essential Energy depot in Temora at 7am