Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG workers vote for second time to restart strike

Workers at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG plants in Western Australia have confirmed their plans to resume strikes on October 19 as part of an ongoing dispute with the energy giant.

Unions representing workers at the 15.5 mtpa Gorgon and the 8.9 mtpa Wheatstone LNG export terminals and the Wheatstone offshore platform in Western Australia decided on September 22 to suspend strikes.

Prior to this, Chevron accepted recommendations made by Australia’s FWC and the parties have been working to complete the drafting of the enterprise agreements since then.

However, the Offshore Alliance, which includes the Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers’ Union, said earlier this this month that Chevron has “reneged on the commitment they gave to the Fair Work Commission to incorporate FWC’s recommendations into the Chevron EBA’s for the Wheatstone and Gorgon facilities.”

Chevron’s workers decided to resume strikes on October 19 and the Offshore Alliance provided a notice to Chevron Australia on October 9.

The parties, with the assistance of commissioner Bernie Riordan, have been working this week to resolve the remaining issues in order to progress drafting of the proposed enterprise agreements.

91 percent support

According to a social media post by the Offshore Alliance published on Sunday, Chevron sent on Friday evening an email to every Offshore Alliance member, “demanding that they tell the Offshore Alliance what they want to do in regards to protected industrial action.”

“Over the past 36 hours, 410 members voted in a secret ballot, with 91 percent support of kicking off PIA on Thursday – for the second time,” the alliance said.

“Members have made it clear that they want Chevron to stop twisting the draft terms of our EBA’s and are prepared to ramp up PIA until our EBA’s are properly sorted,” it said.

Chevron says “extremely disappointed”

“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 finalized, yesterday the unions advised that members have voted not to cancel the action planned for October 19,” a Chevron Australia spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The spokesperson said that 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.”

“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 October 13 and 14,” Chevron’s spokesperson said.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that Chevron reaffirms its commitment to implementing commissioner Riordan’s September 21 recommendation and finalizing the agreements.

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