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The Apprentice Newsletter

AMWU Apprentice Newsletter Volume 1, March 2013


AMWU Apprentice Newsletter Volume 2, March 2013


AMWU Apprentice Newsletter Volume 3, May 2013


AMWU Apprentice Case concludes

Dear Apprentice,

Closing statements in the AMWU apprentices’ case to lift apprentice, trainees and junior’s wages and conditions took place on 9 May . The case took 3 months, and many submissions and witnesses. 

Apprentices and industry experts fronted up to tell their stories. AMWU members like Benjamin Metcalfe, who testified that he was unable to participate in social activities with his peers due to the financial pressure… Kurt Mlakar spoke about working a second job to get by on his current apprentice wage.

The union also had academics, economists and some employers supporting our claim. Andrew Talbot, CEO  of Rosenberg Machinery Group, said apprentices “are currently not well paid” and everything his business can do to lift their pay he is “quite happy [and] quite comfortable to do.” And Nigel Muller – Manager of Auto apprenticeships VACC in Victoria gave evidence that during his time as a trainer in Box Hill he witnessed some apprentices sleeping in their cars overnight in order to attend training.
The Union’s advocates supported these statements by noting that couch surfing is essential for many apprentices when on block training release.

Many employers simply rejected any improvements to apprentice’ wages and conditions. Our union reported that employers thinking of taking on an apprentice would be better off even after paying apprentices the wage increases we are claiming. After all, from January 28th 2013 the federal government pays employers an incentive fee of $1500 to hire an engineering apprentice and then another$3350 if they keep them for 12 months. This means that after paying the apprentice their wage increase employers would still be $80 per week better off.

It’s clear that some employers and their representatives just want to say no. They ignore the reality of the many apprentices who need better wages and conditions if they are going to take up an apprenticeship and stick it out. Some employers told the Commission that employers get “no return” on their investment in a first year apprentice; other statements included comparing apprentices to university students, except uni students don’t get paid to study. Our union had to explain that unlike uni students, apprentices are working and studying, and for this they get a heavily discounted award rate of pay.

Our union also took this case to workplaces across the country. Over 1300 workers across manufacturing signed up to our petition lobbying the Australian Industry Group and the government to support our claims. Forty workplaces across shipbuilding, defence, auto components and printing shops endorsed the campaign. These signatures have been handed over to Bill Shorten, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and to the Australian Industry Group. 

Thank you all for your help, particularly those members who participated in the campaign. We now wait to hear the outcome of our case, which may take some months. 

If you need help call your union today on 1300 732 698.

Please help us raise awareness for our case by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.


Yours in solidarity,

Andrew Dettmer
AMWU National President