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Urban Utilities – The Improvement That Wasn’t

Local Authorities September 16, 2021

Members of The Services Union know we will be with you every step of the way for as long as it takes to secure an acceptable Urban Utilities Operations and Field Enterprise Agreement (EA). It’s no more than you deserve as an essential worker operating in challenging circumstances. The bargaining process has been interesting so far, and never more so than yesterday.

Urban Utilities wants to use the variation agreement (the one you voted down earlier this year) as the starting point for drafting a new EA. At our Union’s instigation, yesterday we explored the key differences between that document and your current EA. When we came to the proposed First Aid Allowance increase (up from $14 to $15.01 per week for employees appointed as First Aid Officers), under our questioning Urban Utilities admitted that as far as it was concerned no employee would receive this allowance because you are all required to maintain a First Aid Certificate as an employment condition!

Such muddying of the waters is fast becoming a characteristic of these negotiations. However, the one thing Urban Utilities seems to be good at saying is “NO”:

  • No Joint Consultative Committee to improve dialogue between you and Management – apparently the existing ad-hoc consultation arrangements are adequate.
  • No maintenance of staffing levels at treatment plants – we’re told Urban Utilities is already meeting its fatigue management and other safety obligations.
  • No expanded access to training for your Workplace Delegates to effectively represent your interests on site.
  • No to keeping the six-month renegotiation period – supposedly we can get it done in three!

The next enterprise bargaining meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 29 September, with RDO arrangements, public holidays and standby and on-call provisions on the agenda. Only strong Union membership is going to achieve an EA that improves conditions for real employees rather than phantom first aiders.

This Agreement is not going to make itself. You are essential workers for our community and you deserve to have pay and conditions that recognise that, not the second rate arrangements Urban Utilities is offering. Share this update with a colleague and remind them that there’s never been a better time to join. It’s easy at www.theservicesunion.com.au.

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