Union welcomes government code retreat

Wednesday 30 Aug 2017

From the national office of the Electrical Unions of Australia

The union representing people working in the electricity industry has welcomed a government backdown on the 2016 building code after Employment Minister Michaelia Cash revised the code to explicitly exclude essential services workers.  The backflip follows a campaign by union members across the country.

Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks said the retreat was a good victory, but that there was still a great deal of work to do before balance was restored to Australia’s work systems.

“Today’s backdown prevents thousands of essential services workers from joining people in the construction industry as second-class citizens.”

“It is impossible to describe this as a satisfactory outcome given that the Minister’s code continues to take wages from working people and sow industrial disharmony in the construction sector, but people in essential services can breathe a little easier for the moment, knowing they will not also be caught up in the chaos.”

“The rules are still rigged against working people – they’re just a little less rigged in one particular area. This is a great victory for the power industry, but there is still a much larger battle to make Australia a fair place to work and live.”

The ruling will have a direct impact on the negotiation of a new industrial agreement in the South Australian power industry, where foreign-owned South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) had been relying upon a ruling by the Australian Building and Construction Commission that exempted only part of the company’s workforce to push through separate agreements that opened the door to experienced locals being replaced with cut-price labour hire workers.

“This paves the way to industrial harmony in South Australia,” Mr Hicks said. “In light of today’s changes I invite SAPN management to negotiate a single deal for all their workforce in good faith with the people who keep South Australia running.”