Western Australia’s four largest construction unions presented a petition to State Parliament, calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the performance of Chevron and its suppliers in complying with the Gorgon Gas Processing and Infrastructure Project Agreement.
The Agreement was negotiated under the Gallop Labor Government and passed through Parliament in 2003. Among other things, it requires Chevron and its subcontractors to give preference to Australian labour and local suppliers in the construction and operation of the Gorgon project.
Leaders of the WA branches of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUAWA), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU WA C & G) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) presented a petition of more than 5,000 signatures to WA Labor’s Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations; Commerce & Small Business, Kate Doust MLC, who has agreed to table the petition in the Legislative Council.
MUAWA Secretary Christy Cain said Chevron was working to make it easier for vessels building and servicing projects like Gorgon and Wheatstone to use foreign crews.
“The Gorgon State Agreement states quite clearly that Chevron’s sub-contractors must give preference to local labour in the construction and operation of the Gorgon project,” he said.
“However, through their mouthpiece, the Australian Mines and Metals Association, Chevron and its subcontractors have been vocal in their support for the Abbott Government’s attempts to make it easier for foreign workers to work on these vessels,” adds Cain.
“This goes against Chevron’s Agreement with the people of Western Australia, which is defined in the State Agreement and enshrined in legislation through the Western AustralianBarrow Island Act 2003,” concludes Cain.
AMWU State Secretary Steve McCartney said that Chevron had been ignoring their obligations under the Gorgon State Agreement for years.
“Our union has campaigned long and hard to try to get Chevron to give preference to local steel fabricators for the more than 500,000 tonnes of fabricated steel required to build Gorgon and Wheatstone,” he said.
“Thanks to our campaign, we managed to get 20,000 tonnes delivered locally, but more than 95 per cent of this work has gone offshore. Many local fabrication businesses in Kwinana have closed down, when they should have been booming, and thousands of Western Australians have lost their jobs,” adds McCartney. “Now, Chevron is allowing their sub-contractors CB&I to bring in welders on 457 visas to work on Barrow Island, when we have proven there are plenty of fully qualified workers available locally to do the job.
“We need a Parliamentary inquiry into what Chevron is doing, where we can get behind the spin of the Chevron advertising campaign, and force their executives to explain why they are dudding Australian workers and local fabrication companies,” he said.
CFMEU State Secretary Mick Buchan said that failure to give preference to local suppliers and local workers has hurt the Western Australian community.
“This project should have delivered significant benefit to the WA community by supporting local businesses, creating local jobs as well as providing training opportunities for young West Australians,” he said. “In WA, we have the lowest ratio of apprentices to trades people in construction in the whole country, despite having a mining and construction boom.”
Buchan further said, “The WA community deserves an explanation if Chevron and their sub-contractors have failed to meet their obligation to give preference to Australian labour and local suppliers as defined in the Gorgon State Agreement. “
Press Release, September 15, 2014; Image: ETUWA