Members by now would be aware of Zinfra circulating information about a $1000 sign-on bonus. It has become quite clear that they now intend to put out an agreement to vote upon, without the agreement of the unions. The Unions received a copy of the agreement late on Friday and have now had an opportunity to examine it in some detail.

Part 1 covers all existing Zinfra employees that did not transfer from Jemena in 2019 and provides fairly basic entitlements

Part 2 covers all new employees to Zinfra in Victoria regardless of workplace. It will provide the bare minimum of entitlements to these new employees. Conditions that are substantially reduced compared to those we enjoy today.

Part 3 will cover former Jemena employees

A second part will cover new employees and a third part will cover former Jam employees whose existing conditions will be grandfathered and only available to existing employees. New employees will get some of the conditions applicable to former JAM employees but things such as redundancy and long service leave will default to the most basic of conditions, the National Employment Standards. The proposed agreement will not cover the former Ausnet employees transferring across.

Far from Zinfra’s oft-touted cry of being one company, the proposed agreement sets up a whole variety of differing conditions. Existing employees working on the JAM network, for instance, may have two wildly different sets of conditions depending on whether they were a former Jemena employee or someone who was a Zinfra employee. One person cannot be made redundant without electing to be the other can be made redundant and will only receive the minimum, NES terms. One will have different Long Service Leave conditions, the list goes on.

Other conditions such as radial and other allowances will vary from one employee to the next.

The supposed rationale for all of this is Zinfra’s need to compete in the open market. This is strange in the light that the Ausnet contract is excluded and the Jam contract securely locked down (with a network owned and part of the same group). The least change has been proposed for those working on the UE network. Of course, what gains Zinfra claims it is seeking to make are either illusory or long term. As an example changes to Long Service Leave for new employees won’t have any pay off to the company for at least 10 years.

The draft that has been provided seeks to remove all of the relevant position descriptors to roles except those former Jemena employees working on the JAM network. These are agreed descriptors, taken from the Power Industry Award that form the basis of classification and associated pay rates. Without them, there will be little way to argue about the correct level of classification.

Proposed pay increases are 2.5%, far less than the current agreement. As a way to sweeten the medicine, Zinfra are suggesting there will be a $1000 sign-on payment but there is nothing in writing to guarantee this. The $1,000, of course, is a one-off, ex-gratia payment that will not compound and will have no benefit to superannuation.  A number of members have posed the valid question as to how a sign-on payment is available when performance bonuses have not. What members have asked for is a fair and reasonable pay increase, not one-off handouts.

By contrast, Field crews are enjoying a 4% pay increase and 1% on top of their superannuation without six-monthly individual performance reviews.  The Unions’ claim we are only asking for a 3% increase to all staff employees and to retain current conditions

Members and staff have posed the valid question as to how a sign-on payment is available when performance bonuses MIP’s have not been paid for reasonable unpaid overtime.

The agreement is going to be put out by Zinfra to all staff sometime next week.

All up, this is a third rate agreement that the Unions, cannot endorse or support. It aims to weaken the negotiating power of members by splitting them into increasingly smaller groups and removing the prospect of fair and equitable conditions to both existing and future staff.

For this reason, we are asking all members to vote NO to Zinfra’s dodgy agreement. In addition, we are encouraging all members to talk to their colleagues and urge them to also vote NO to this agreement.

  • Vote NO to splitting the workforce
  • Vote NO to the removal of long-held and hard-fought conditions
  • Vote No to substandard wage increases

The Fair Work Commission has approved the ASU’s application for a Protected Action Ballot and we believe that this will have the power to change management’s position in the coming weeks.  We will be reminding all members and those who have nominated the ASU as their bargaining agent to vote for the industrial bans. If, however, the non-union agreement is successful, that ballot will be moot.

All Zinfra employees interested in a decent pay increase and preservation of existing terms and conditions are urged to VOTE NO.



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