Strike action is again back on at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone liquefied natural gas facilities in Australia despite the operator and unions working towards new enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) intended to resolve the dispute over workers’ pay and conditions.
Protected Industrial Action (PIA) is scheduled for Thursday 19 October at US supermajor Chevron’s 15.6 million tonnes per annum Gorgon and 8.9 million tpa Wheatstone LNG projects, which together account for around 6% of global supply.
“More than three weeks ago, Chevron agreed to incorporate recommendations from the Fair Work Commission into the draft Chevron facility EBAs. The Union also required Chevron to address the drafting uncertainties in the proposed EBAs,” the Offshore Alliance said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
“Chevron failed on all counts and the Offshore Alliance gave notice of further Protected Industrial Action commencing on Thursday 19 October.
On Friday evening, Chevron sent every Offshore Alliance member an email, demanding that they tell the Offshore Alliance what they want to do in regards [sic] to Protected Industrial Action.”
In a secret ballot, 410 members OA members voted, with 91% in support of kicking off PIA on Thursday — the second time in as many months at Chevron’s LNG facilities Down Under.
“We are extremely disappointed that despite a strong recommendation in writing from Commissioner Riordan to the unions to withdraw protected industrial action while drafting of Enterprise Agreements is finalised, on 14 October the unions advised that members have voted not to cancel the action planned for 19 October,” a Chevron Australia spokesperson said on Sunday evening.
“We understand union leaders recommended members not withdraw the notified industrial action.”
Chevron had requested the commissioner’s assistance to conclude drafting of the enterprise agreements for Gorgon, the Wheatstone platform and Wheatstone downstream facility based on clarifications to implement his recommendation of 21 September which had been accepted by both the company and the unions.
“Chevron participated in a genuine and meaningful way in the conferences held last week and accepted every clarification provided by the commissioner on the small number of items in his recommendation that the parties interpret differently,” the company spokesperson added.
“Conversely, the unions have continued to add matters into dispute and are now withholding agreements on other matters on the basis that they do not have instruction from members, despite holding mass meetings with members on 13 and 14 October.
“The union’s decision to ignore the recommendation to withdraw the protected industrial action notice while discussions are continuing is very concerning, unreasonable and undermines the considerable progress made prior to Chevron requesting the commission’s assistance last week.
“We reaffirm our commitment to implementing Commissioner Riordan’s September 21 recommendation and finalising the agreements.”
However, the Offshore Alliance — which combines the Australian Workers Union and the Maritime Union of Australia — accused Chevron of twisting the draft terms of its EBAs and reiterated its workers are prepared to ramp up PIA until these agreements “are properly sorted”.
“Members have also raised concerns about the need for Chevron to permanently exclude behavioural standards from level progression and want answers from Chevron about the perceived attack on members' annual bonuses.
“The Offshore Alliance is fed up with the games Chevron and their lawyers are playing. This includes Chevron ‘accidentally’ trying to snip A$4K (US$2528) off our members’ field loading allowance.
“Just another accidental mistake according to the Chevron lawyers…,” added the union.