Final talks fail over Australia LNG strike: Update 2

  • : Natural gas
  • 23/09/08

Updates with union statements

Union organisation the Offshore Alliance (OA), representing staff at Chevron's Western Australian (WA) upstream and LNG facilities, has accused the company of backing down from concessions it made earlier during negotiations.

Chevron earlier confirmed meetings mediated by Australia's Fair Work Commission (FWC) have failed to avert today's strike action.

Staff at Chevron's two Western Australia LNG export facilities, the 8.9mn t/yr Wheatstone and 15.6mn t/yr Gorgon, plus the Wheatstone offshore gas platform began strike action on 8 September at 1pm local time (5am GMT), as part of their campaign for a new enterprise agreement (EA).

"In good faith the OA agreed to a week-long negotiation before the FWC starting on Monday, the OA even delayed protected industrial action to give the process the chance to succeed, but after five days Chevron has barely budged," OA spokesman Brad Gandy said on 8 September. "It took until day three for Chevron to bring a changed position on anything of significance and even then on day four the company back-pedalled on the earlier offer it made. It appears Chevron is more focused on making applications to the FWC than reaching agreement with the OA."

Chevron has said that unions it is negotiating with, including the OA, are seeking terms "above and beyond" equivalent terms reached with other industry participants.

"Throughout this process we bargained in good faith and sought to reach an agreement that achieves a market competitive outcome which is in the interests of both employees and the company," a Chevron spokesman said. "Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions before the FWC, we remain apart on key terms."

The spokesman said Chevron will take steps to maintain safe and reliable operations during the disruption to operations.

The OA workers initially resolved to strike from 6am local time on 7 September but progress in talks led the OA to push back the timing twice, first to 6am on 8 September and then to 1pm, a Chevron spokesman told Argus on 7 September.

Approximately 500 workers at Chevron's three sites will engage in 20 different types of protected industrial action including numerous work bans and shorter stoppages of work, the union said, promising to escalate to continuous total work bans from 14-29 September.

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