‘Millions’ owing to Queensland Apprentices following FWC award decision

Potentially millions of dollars in backpay owing after FWC rejects All Trades’ appeal
Queensland Apprentices are eligible to recoup potentially millions of dollars in backpay following a decision of the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday.

Electrical Trades Union Queensland and NT Apprentices Officer Scott Reichman said the ruling proved the ETU’s argument that thousands of Apprentices across Queensland have been paid under inferior state awards for the past three years.

The Fair Work Commission dismissed the appeal against their ruling last year that All Trades Queensland’s Apprentices agreement should be measured against the Modern Award of $12.66 an hour, not the State Award of $8.75.

Mr Reichman said the decision made it clear that the Modern Awards should have applied to all Queensland Apprentices since 1 January 2014. Yet All Trades Queensland’s EBA pays just $9.75 an hour to Apprentices.

The Electrical Trades Union says as many as 2000 electrical apprentices around the state could be under-paid by up to $4 an hour due to the ruling.

ETU Apprentices Officer Scott Reichman urged all electrical Apprentices paid on the award to contact the Union to investigate any potential underpayment.

“There are about 1800 electrical Apprentices in group training organisations across Queensland – and potentially thousands employed by small contractors – that are being paid under the state award, which is more than $100 a week less than the poverty line,” he said.

“We have argued this kind of exploitation of Apprentices has been driving young people away from our industry as they struggle to afford to pay for transport, food or rent.

“It has now been proven this is the wrong award, and we want to ensure our most vulnerable workers are being paid the correct rate. We encourage any Apprentices who are unsure whether they are being paid at the right rate to contact the ETU office as soon as possible to begin pursuing their entitlements.”

The ETU acknowledged the decision was the culmination of the combined efforts of the ETU, AMWU, Plumbers Union and CFMEU – with apprentices across all these trades benefitting.

Apprentices can contact the ETU office by phone at 07 3844 9851 or by emailing scott@etu.org.au