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OA secures strong UPS Northern Endeavour Enterprise Agreement

May 2, 2022

Workers employed by Upstream Production Solutions (UPS) on the Northern Endeavour floating production storage and offloading vessel have voted unanimously to approve a new enterprise agreement negotiated by the Offshore Alliance and its members.

The agreement was negotiated over five months, initially in the face of fierce employer resistance.

The Offshore Alliance is a formal partnership between The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

UPS is the principal contractor on the Northern Endeavour, a floating production storage and offloading vessel located in the Timor Sea about 550km northwest of Darwin, in water ranging from 350m to 410m deep.

The Northern Endeavour is in lighthouse mode, awaiting decommissioning after the title holder – Northern Oil and Gas Australia – went into administration.

The new EA delivers improved terms and conditions including:

  • Immediate wage uplift of 5% for casuals and 3.5% for permanent employees, backdated to March 1;
  • Annual wage increases equal to CPI (ensuring workers’ cost of living doesn’t outpace their wages);
  • New travel payment of $200 per swing (worth more than $1700 annually);
  • New demobilisation payment of $450 per swing (worth more than $3800 annually);
  • Income protection up to $3000 a week;
  • Job security provisions (ensuring contractors and labour-hire workers are paid no less than direct employees);
  • A fixed 3/3 roster;
  • Removal of fixed-term contracts;
  • Improved redundancy conditions;
  • A minimum period between demobilising and mobilising to the facility;
  • Annual wage increases in the EA will apply equally to any over-agreement salaries;
  • Improved career progression.

Offshore Alliance spokesperson Brad Gandy says the big wins in the UPS Northern Endeavour agreement are proof positive of the effectiveness of the Offshore Alliance.

“The Offshore Alliance is the union for offshore oil and gas workers,” Mr Gandy said.

“The Alliance now has more than 25 current enterprise agreements in the sector and is actively negotiating more.

“This win proves the Offshore Alliance will do whatever it takes to bargain for, lock in and improve terms and conditions of employment for its members, even if that means dragging the employer to the Fair Work Commission.”

The successful vote was the culmination of a drawn-out battle by Offshore Alliance members on the Northern Endeavour to win the right to collectively bargain.

After twice requesting unsuccessfully late last year for UPS to begin bargaining for an EA for its Northern Endeavour workers, in November the OA applied to the Fair Work Commission for a majority support determination (MSD).

Under the Fair Work Act, if a bargaining representative can demonstrate that the majority of employees want to collectively bargain, an MSD is granted and the employer must come to the table and bargain “in good faith”.

UPS opposed the application, and proposed to the Alliance and the FWC that UPS run its own ballot to determine if its employees wanted to bargain. The OA agreed as long as UPS used a trusted third-party balloting agent.

UPS subsequently ran a concerted “vote no” campaign with its employees before and during the balloting, but a solid majority ignored it and voted in favour of bargaining.

On November 25 UPS finally backed down, and issued a Notice of Employee Representational Rights on November 30, kicking off the bargaining process.

“The Offshore Alliance’s reputation for winning MSD applications and then better pay and conditions in the offshore oil and gas industry is now well known,” Mr Gandy said.

“No matter what part of the industry you are involved in, you can join the Offshore Alliance and the Alliance will support and work for you.”

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