Ennesty is a medium sized electrical contractor consisting of a mix of field-based operations and onsite manufacturing. This “neither one thing nor the other” character enabled the company management to operate without an EBA. But that is a thing of the past with agreements now bedded down for workers in both arms of the company.
“It took me three stewards along the way before we got it over the line,” Organiser Peter McKinnon recalls of the protracted negotiations during which first one and then another steward left the company.
“But just because the company was something of a hybrid with both field operations and on site manufacturing operations didn’t seem to me to be any good reason why we shouldn’t still nut out EBA’s that would cover workers in both sectors.”
Not that management saw matters that way.
“They’d never done a union agreement before and for a long time seemed to jumping at shadows,” Peter says.
“It wasn’t as if the shop was entirely anti-worker – wage levels were award and in some cases above – but there were a whole lot of conditions in the Power Industry agreement in particular that the relevant workers were not receiving and that they could only get by formal coverage under an EBA.”
And then there is the principle.
“The EBA is the legally binding mechanism to ensure proper wages and conditions are, in the first place negotiated and then applied,” Assistant Secretary, Troy Gray, says.
“Just because an employer in its structure and operations might be a bit different from the usual mould is no reason that the EBA process should not apply.”
Assistant Secretary Wes Hayes sees the achievements at Ennesty as a model for bringing in union conditions into a shop that had previously resisted them.
“And all of those attributes will be used again as the ETU continues to extend its coverage in all sectors of the power industry.”