Woodside employees who are members of union partnership the Offshore Alliance have voted unanimously to take industrial action on Wednesday if an agreement on pay and job security is not reached.
The alliance, comprising the Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, held a meeting on Sunday with members working at the oil and gas company’s North West Shelf platforms Goodwyn Alpha, North Rankin Complex and Angel Deep.
The alliance alleged Woodside had resorted to hostile tactics during the negotiation process, and all members voted to strike if their demands for pay parity with other large operators and greater job and roster security are not met.
In a statement, the alliance said the company had accused a senior member of the Fair Work Commission of apprehended bias in favour of the union, which was rejected by both the member and the commission on appeal. The company had also unsuccessfully sought the names of all workers supporting the union application and tried to obtain a copy of the signatures collected by the union on a petition supporting collective bargaining, the alliance said.
It said Woodside had subsequently admitted it did not have copies of its employees’ signatures on file.
An Offshore Alliance spokesperson, AWU West Australian secretary Brad Gandy, said it was time for Woodside to accept that its workers wanted an industry standard enterprise agreement.
“Woodside tried every tactic it could think of to avoid bargaining with its workers as a collective, but in the end the company failed to maintain the status quo it liked – one where what the company says goes,” Gandy said.
“It is the recalcitrance and pigheadedness of Woodside that has placed the company in the position it is in now, not the workers.
“The alliance first approached Woodside to bargain for an agreement to apply to the NWS platforms in May 2022. Woodside has dragged this out and brought us all along with them.
“Offshore Alliance members don’t take industrial action lightly, but Woodside is really leaving them with little choice here.”
Woodside has been contacted for comment.
Unions are pushing for agreed manning levels and for contractors to be paid the same as direct employees, which would remove the incentive for Woodside and Chevron to switch to a casual workforce.
The terms and conditions the Offshore Alliance is calling for:
Provisions to prevent low-wage contractors from undermining the job security of Woodside employees.
An agreed classification structure that is based on technical competencies and allows for workers to progress on objective criteria.
Remuneration that is on the same level as other tier 1 operators in Australia and takes into account qualifications, skills, experience and the hazardous working environment.
Roster security to ensure workers have a say in any proposed roster changes.
Industrial action at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone gas export projects in WA is also possible after the Offshore Alliance in the past week received Fair Work Commission backing to run three ballots to determine support for action by its about 400 members at the US major’s facilities.
Woodside’s and Chevron’s facilities account for almost 10 per cent of the global gas market and the prospect of a strike has already sent gas prices in Europe soaring. A strike at the platforms is expected to spark fierce competition between European and Asian buyers for existing gas shipments.
Workers at Chevron downstream services and Gorgon will return their ballot regarding whether they are prepared to take protected industrial action on Thursday and Chevron Wheatstone platform members will return their ballot on August 28.
With Peter Milne
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Source: Thanks smh.com