Thursday, September 29, 2016

WA: 'Please sir, can I have a job?': Protesters fight against changes to electrical apprenticeships

Three apprentice electricians have become the face of the fight against proposed changes to the electrical industry, donning 19th century-inspired clothing to beg: ‘”Please sir, can I have a job?”

The youths were part of a large group protesting the changes that will see apprentices slugged with the cost of their training.

The ‘Hands Off Our Trade’ campaign was launched in Perth on Saturday as an initiative run by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Protesters holding banners and signs gathered outside the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) national conference in Fremantle to send a strong message: “We won't let them take apprenticeships back to the 19th century”.

The apprentice electricians took a stand in Western Australia. Under the proposed changes, the MEA would introduce flexible learning environments that would allow the trainees to study in their own time. Students would also be hit with a fee.

The ETU said the plans will only damage the standard of Australian electricians.

“Their corner-cutting approach will see skills and knowledge deteriorate. Sparkies will start their careers under a mountain of debt,” the group wrote on their website.

They believe the current system is working fine, allowing young people who "don’t have rich parents" to try their hand in the trade.

“This is a campaign we must win; it is a fight for the rights of Australia's lowest paid workers - apprentices, for the safety of electrical workers and the wider community, for the ongoing value of an electrical licence,” the group said on their Facebook page.

“When progressive unions and the community stand together to take on a campaign there isn't a force in the country that can stop us.”

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