TransGrid employees have been advised to reject their employer’s proposed enterprise bargaining agreement at an Electrical Trades Union meeting on Thursday morning.
Deputy Secretary of the NSW-ACT Branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Allen Hicks said the offer currently on the table is “sub-standard”.
“TransGrid have put an offer on the table for their employees to consider, and what we did was speak to the employees about the offer and we have indicated to them that it’s sub-standard.”
“They (the employees) have indicated to us that they are not going to support the agreement in its current form,” he said.
The offer on the table is a 2% pay rise, which Allen says fails to meet the cost-of-living increases across the country and in particular in regional environments.
“Currently, the company is offering 2%, the cost of living (CPI) that’s been forecasted by the Federal Government is going to be 3.5% this financial year.”
“2% is below the cost of living, and these workers are the people that keep a safe and reliable network running, and they’re the ones that keep the power on for the communities, and we believe that TransGrid should offer them a more respectful figure, and we say that’s 3%,” he said.
With house prices in regional areas peaking and Yass experiencing a housing shortage for renters, Allen says that a 3% pay rise is essential for the workers.
“These people live in this area and all throughout regional Australia since the pandemic; there’s been a rise in house prices.”
“Particularly in areas like Yass and what we’re saying is that, on top of the CPI, the cost-of-living pressures means that workers should be paid more,” he said.
Not only is it a housing and cost of living issue, but the ETU are also working off advice from the Reserve Bank.
“The Reserve Bank of Australia has also come out and said wages need to lift.”
“So, you’ve got the Reserve Bank saying wages need to lift, you’ve got the Federal Government saying the cost of living is 3.5%, and you’ve got a company like TransGrid saying they’re going to offer their workers 2%.”
“We don’t think 3% is unfair or unreasonable, we think in the circumstances, a very moderate claim and we want the company, in particular the CEO, to get to the table, sharpen his pencil and make that a 3% increase,” said Allen.
The pay rise is the main sticking point, but the ETU also have issues with the proposed changes to their superannuation agreement and TransGrid’s current view on their employees right to their back pay.
“The company’s moved on a whole range of things; they want to try and force people into fortnightly pay, they don’t want to pay back pay, and they don’t want to flow on the superannuation guarantee levy increases.”
“Our members enjoy a higher superannuation than most people, but they fought for that over 6-8 years to get that increase, and now they want to maintain that increase, and the company is trying to make the employees absorb that super.”
“So effectively, the 2% wage rise is a 1.5% wage rise and half a per cent of super,” said Allen.
A TransGrid spokesperson said, “We value our people and their contributions, and we are continuing to talk to them about a fair pay rise”.
With affected landowners by the HumeLink project and employees both sharing their disgruntlement in recent weeks, the energy giant has found itself under pressure to negotiate with local stakeholders.