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AMMA: Gorgon strike action “damaging” reputation

AUSTRALIA’s resource industry employer group, AMMA, has warned of the damaging effects strike action at the Gorgon natural gas project could have on Australia’s international reputation as being ‘open for business’.

Earlier this week, more than 1000 workers at Chevron’s Gorgon Project in Western Australia voted overwhelmingly (94%) in favour taking industrial action over roster concerns.

The workers, employed by contractor Chicago Bridge and Iron, want to change the current rosters from 26 days on, nine days off, to a more family friendly roster of 20 days on, and 10 days off.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney said the workers were prepared to accept less pay in order to spend more time with their families.

“What the guys and ladies have been saying on the island for quite some time now is that they want one third of their time with their families and they’ll give two thirds of their time to the company, they think that’s fair and equitable,” he told the ABC.

But AMMA has said unions encouraging the strike action are being “irresponsible and reckless”.

“Industrial disputation is in nobody’s best interest – not the employees or the contractor companies involved,” AMMA CEO Steve Knott said.

“The solution lies in continued good faith negotiations. We encourage the unions to consider the national impacts of striking and choose a more responsible path to resolving the impasse.”

Mr Knott says nation-building projects, such as Gorgon, have the international spotlight on them, and strike action threatened late in the construction phase is a bad look for Australia.

“At a critical time for Australia’s resource industry, unions are holding to ransom our largest project which employs many thousands of Australian workers and brings other significant economic benefits for the state and for the nation,” he continues.

“Threatening to strike every time an agreement is up for renewal undermines Australia’s reputation as a sound investment destination. It hurts the very people the unions represent as projects and jobs disappear offshore.”

Mr Knott claimed many of the employees are in favour of the roster, wages and conditions outlined by the employer. Further, certainty over important workplace issues such as established roster arrangements is critical for resources projects both current and in the future.

“It’s important to note, these roles are some of the best paid construction jobs in the world, with many employees earning in excess of $200,000 per annum,” Mr Knott continues.

“The current rosters at Gorgon are commonplace among mega construction projects and the head contractor has genuinely attempted to find an acceptable middle ground.

“From the employees’ perspective, it’s also not as simple as the unions purport. It’s understandable that many seek to retain the current rosters to get the greatest financial reward from their contracts before construction is wrapped-up.

“To dramatically change the working patterns at Gorgon as the project enters the final stretch is unrealistic and further damages Australia’s reputation as a competitive and industrially stable place to invest and build new resource projects.”

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