Chevron asks Australia’s Fair Work Commission to resolve LNG strike

A unit of energy giant Chevron has asked Australia’s Fair Work Commission to help resolve its ongoing dispute with unions representing its workers on the Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects as a partial strike continues.

Workers at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG plants have started protected industrial action on Friday after talks between the energy giant and unions ended without an agreement.

There are currently stoppages and specific work bans occurring across Chevron’s Wheatstone and Gorgon sites for periods during the day.

LNG Prime understands that there is currently no impact on LNG production at the 15.5 mtpa Gorgon LNG plant and the 8.9 mtpa Wheatstone LNG plant near Onslow.

However, the Offshore Alliance, which includes the Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers’ Union, has provided Chevron with a notice that work bans may apply for up to 24 hours a day from Thursday, September 14.

Last week, Chevron has been trying to narrow points of difference with employees and their representatives through further bargaining mediated by Australia’s workplace tribunal FWC.

“While industrial action has started, Chevron Australia remains committed to attaining an agreement that achieves market competitive outcomes which are in the interests of both our employees and our company,” a Chevron Australia spokesperson said on Monday.

“Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions with the Fair Work Commission, no agreement has been reached as the unions are asking for terms significantly above the market,” the spokesperson said.

“Intractable bargaining declarations”

“Given we consider there is no reasonable prospect of agreement, we will now apply for intractable bargaining declarations for the Gorgon and Wheatstone downstream facilities,” the spokesperson said.

Chevron filed these applications on Monday.

This follows the application for the Wheatstone platform the company filed on September 4.

“We will seek to have these applications heard with the existing application for the Wheatstone platform,” the spokesperson said.

First meeting will take place on Tuesday at the Fair Work Commission.

The Australian government inserted the intractable bargaining declaration provisions into the fair work act in June 2023 as a “circuit breaker” when there is no prospect of agreement between the parties.

A bargaining representative can apply for an “intractable bargaining declaration” if the parties have been bargaining for at least 9 months and have reached an impasse, have already tried to resolve the bargaining dispute including by making an application to the commission, and want further assistance to resolve the dispute, FWC’s website shows.

“If the commission makes an intractable bargaining declaration and bargaining representatives still can’t resolve the dispute, the commission must make an intractable bargaining workplace determination,” it said.

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