Australian operator Woodside Energy in April is facing further strike action by contract personnel working at its Burrup Gas Hub facility near Karratha in Western Australia after they failed to reach a key agreement with their employer engineering firm Applus.

The workers are involved in an ongoing dispute with Applus with the main bone of contention being new rosters and they have already downed tools on three separate occasions

Applus has reportedly proposed an 18 days on, 10 days off fly-in, fly-out roster while the workers want to maintain their current 14 days on, 14 days off roster.

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The Offshore Alliance union is organising on behalf of 100 to 120 workers who are affected by the negotiations.

“Woodside is aware that Applus is involved in enterprise bargaining negotiations with some of their employees who work on Woodside facilities. These negotiations are strictly between Applus, their relevant employees and their bargaining representatives,” a Woodside spokesperson told Upstream.

“Woodside respects the rights of contractor employees to undertake protected industrial action in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work Act.”

While Burrup Gas Hub operator Woodside said the negotiations were strictly between Applus and its employees, the union claims the operator must sign off before an agreement is finalised, reported ABC News.

"We had issues last year where Woodside and Applus were talking to our members about them having to go on to a significantly different roster to what they're currently on," Offshore Alliance union organiser Doug Heath was quoted by the Australian media outfit.

"Applus have sought to unilaterally change these contracts time and time again.”

Engineering contractor Applus, which provides testing and certification services across Woodside's infrastructure in northern Western Australia, claimed the most recent two-week strike resulted in "minimal disruption” to its operations.

In the absence of an enterprise bargaining agreement, the Offshore Alliance union is planning further industrial action, which is protected under Australia’s Fair Work Act.

Woodside's priority

The Woodside spokesperson added that the company’s priority remains the performance of its operations in a safe and reliable manner.

“Any potential protected industrial action involving Applus employees will be managed by Applus in line with the requirements of the Fair Work Act.”

Workers who are covered by protected action cannot be fired or face punishment for going on strike.

The Burrup Hub will extend the operating life of the Woodside-operated North West Shelf project’s Karratha Gas Plant for decades beyond 2025, outgoing chief executive Peter Coleman earlier said.

“Central to our vision for the Burrup Hub is the transition of the Karratha Gas Plant into a third-party tolling facility as the NWS joint venture fields reach the end of their lives.

“The Burrup Hub will unlock the future value of the NWS and Pluto infrastructure by ensuring these world-class assets continue providing returns to the nation, state and local communities, and the participants’ shareholders, for many years to come,” said Coleman.

The Offshore Alliance brings together workers under the banners of the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Workers Union.

"For years multinational oil and gas companies have deliberately set about driving down our wages, conditions, job security and health and safety standards of offshore catering, drilling, construction and maintenance workers," reads the alliance's website.