In 2006/07, the two big issues faced by Hydro Tasmania’s staff were negotiating the next Enterprise Partnership Agreement (EPA) and restructuring the business.
Enterprise Partnership Agreements
Two new EPAs were negotiated in the first half of this reporting period to cater for the different career progression and remuneration requirements of Hydro Tasmania Consulting compared to the rest of the business. The EPAs cover employment conditions of the 82 per cent of Hydro Tasmania staff on award level positions in the categories of full-time, part-time, fixed-term and casual. The remaining 18 per cent are management level employees. All Hydro Tasmania fixed-term and part-time employees receive the same benefits as full-time employees except that redundancy provisions generally do not apply to fixed-term employees.
The Hydro Tasmania Consulting EPA 2006-2008 covers 261 employees and provides a flexible remuneration model based on a career progression framework, the CapAbility Pathways. The remuneration model allows managers to reward employees on their performance and development. The EPA was approved by 68 per cent of Consulting staff who voted. The employees voting in favour constituted 47.6 per cent of the eligible voters in Consulting. The EPA is a union-collective agreement with the Association of Professional Engineers Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) as the union party.
The Hydro Tasmania Energy/OCEO EPA 2006-2009 is an employee collective agreement, covering 406 staff and was approved by 52 per cent of those who voted. The employees voting in favour constituted 41.3 per cent of the eligible voters in Energy/OCEO. Hydro Tasmania has delivered its commitment for career progression by creating several new senior roles in the restructure of the organisation, and is undertaking a review of the remuneration structure. The negotiations dealt with pay parity with other Australian electricity industry companies. Research carried out by Hydro Tasmania shows that, as far as direct comparison is possible, its pay and conditions are consistent with other companies in the utilities industry.
Protected industrial action was taken by members of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (Electrical Division), or ETU, by placing a ban on overtime towards the end of the negotiations. ETU members held a strike for one day in October. The stoppage did not interfere with normal business activities, with non-union employees continuing to work. The protected industrial action concluded when Hydro Tasmania and employees reached the employee collective agreement.
The conditions in the EPAs meet, and in many cases exceed, those in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard of the Australian Workplace Relations Act 1996. Such conditions include sick-leave conditions and paid parental leave.
Hydro Tasmania has committed, through both EPAs, to communicate with employees on significant changes that affect their working environment as early as possible after the decision has been made and to discuss the impact of those changes. In addition, Hydro Tasmania endeavours to consult with employees on issues which affect their employment; for example, the Hydro Tasmania Remuneration Review.
Following the EPA negotiations, a consultative framework was set up with the ETU, APESMA, the Australian Services Union and the Australian Metal Workers Union and employee representatives. The framework outlines who should attend, the frequency and the nature of the meetings to be conducted.
The second half of the reporting period was taken up with restructuring the business. The new structure focuses on creating one integrated business with a commitment to groups working together, providing strong customer service, reducing bureaucracy and creating greater efficiencies and collaboration. The aim is to give Hydro Tasmania a strong foundation to meet the challenges and opportunities of a changing business environment into the foreseeable future.
The high-level management structure was in place by the end of the reporting period. It is expected that the process will continue and will be fully implemented by the end of 2007. All positions for the change have been recruited internally. The hold on external recruitment to fill restructure positions has meant that employee numbers have reduced, mostly through natural attrition. Where possible, the principle of redeployment has been applied to redundant positions.
The CEO provided information personally to the workforce by speaking to our employees about the business strategy and why the structural changes were necessary before they occurred. Recognising staff feedback that many employees do not fully understand our business strategy, communicating the strategy will continue to be a focus of senior management as the structure settles and the context of the changes becomes clearer.
Opportunity and Equity
A review of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy and procedure during the year has shifted emphasis from compliance to recognising the importance of embracing diversity across Hydro Tasmania. The employee survey indicates employees are generally satisfied with the employee equity and opportunity programs, with a score of 71 per cent.
||Table 9 Hydro Tasmania employee gender composition on employment category
The on-line EEO training, introduced in the previous reporting period, has been completed by 89 per cent of employees, up from 19 per cent last year.
Hydro Tasmania, like many other businesses in the energy industry, has a gender imbalance with males constituting 77 per cent of our workforce. The ratio of males to females is 3.3 compared to the industry median of 3.69. The organisation encourages workforce diversity and applies principles of equal opportunity in the recruiting process. An affirmative action plan is not part of our recruitment practices as we are intent on getting the right person for the job. Our Board continues to maintain a more balanced gender mix than other parts of the business (see Table 9).