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AWU oil and gas members are better off

June 1, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 is starting to take a toll on Australia’s oil and gas sector with crude prices at almost historic lows.

With global energy demand set to drop even further in the coming months, there have been a raft of stand-downs across the industry.

But, whilst this crisis is unprecedented, the Offshore Alliance (made up of the Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia) is working harder than ever to ensure members’ jobs are protected and that employers don’t see this as an excuse to cut wages, slash jobs, or change working conditions for the worse.

Our organisers and delegates are focused on securing the strongest enterprise agreements, on ensuring any changes to your working environment due to COVID-19 are just, and that workers will receive their rightful entitlements if they are stood down. They are also working with the major employers to mitigate job losses and to get people safely back working on their rigs and platforms.

Here’s the latest site news:


Earlier this month Chevron announced it was shedding thousands of jobs worldwide, with 600 job losses planned for Australia.

Members were informed with a memo on 6 May that said Chevron was seeking to cut 20-30% of its workforce, including contractors.

The memo provides very little information about which jobs Chevron will target, merely stating that the company will be conducting a review to ‘identify where [Chevron] could make the 20-30% workforce reductions’ and that they are ‘targeting to have all changes communicated by the end of Q3.’

To inform staff that potentially almost one in three jobs are going to be cut without any further information, especially in the current environment where job anxiety is already high, is entirely irresponsible and it’s apparent that Chevron is attempting to announce mass job cuts by stealth by announcing future cuts during a period of large job losses due to the effects of COVID19.

COVID-19 has also delayed our first bargaining meeting for the negotiation of an enterprise agreement for Chevron employees on the Wheatstone platform. The first meeting, which the Alliance secured after taking Chevron to the Fair Work Commission, will now take place on June 18.


Strict new quarantine measures have been employed across the industry due to COVID-19. The AWU is working on behalf of its members at Shell who are undertaking an additional four weeks of quarantine during each 15-week roster period – that’s an extra 336 hours of working time.

Currently, they are only receiving a nominal daily payment of $200 during this period. The AWU has written to Shell to request on what basis it is making these payments rather than providing overcycle/overtime rates which should apply for hours worked beyond their normal pay cycle. We are also asking for Shell to provide some additional information regarding total working hours of its employees. We expect a response soon


Due to INPEX consistently refusing AWU requests to commence bargaining to replace its expired Multi Location Agreement, the AWU has filed a Majority Support Determination application with the Fair Work Commission. A significant majority of INPEX employees have provided the AWU with written support for bargaining to start and the AWU will be asking the Commission to order INPEX to begin negotiating with the union for a new enterprise agreement that will provide job security and certainty for our members at INPEX.

The actions of some employers in the oil and gas sector during the COVID19 pandemic has clearly shown that workers in this sector require more protection in their employment and the AWU intends to seek such protection through the best means possible – a union-negotiated enterprise agreement.


Bargaining with Jadestone will resume on 23 June in relation to workers on its Montara Venture Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) hub in WA.

This comes after the AWU put Jadestone on notice that its refusal to meet for the purposes of continuing negotiations was in breach of the good faith bargaining requirements in the Fair Work Act.


Alliance catering members took part in a protected action ballot that closed on May 7 regarding bargaining with Sodexo for a new enterprise agreement. Members overwhelmingly voted in favour on moving ahead with industrial action – including bans on cooking hot meals, preparing meat, fresh bread, the restocking of vending machines, serving all beverages except water, and the collection and delivery of laundry.

A subsequent survey of members has shown that more than 95% of members are willing to take protected action to further their claims in bargaining for a replacement agreement.

The AWU continues to press the outstanding claims in regards to limitations around roster changes and the content of the dispute resolution procedure in the negotiation process and remains in regular contact with the company in an attempt to progress the negotiations to an in-principle agreement.


The AWU is continuing with its application to the Fair Work Commission for a Majority Support Determination to direct Applus to commence bargaining with the AWU for an enterprise agreement to cover its blue-collar workforce working on Woodside owned or managed assets. The next step in this process will be a short hearing before Deputy President Binet, which is likely to take place later this month or in early June.


With drilling on the Deliver scheduled to resume in October, manning levels on the rig will likely increase from September. Maersk has negotiated a voluntary support payment of $175 per day, Monday to Friday, for all crew who have been stood down in the interim, and an additional $4020 + superannuation rejoin bonus when crew return to the rig, payable after the completion of two on duty periods.

The support payment will be made fortnightly and will be backdated to April 30, 2020. This is a welcome development as many of the affected crew were either not working for companies eligible for JobKeeper payments or were not eligible themselves due to their casual employment status. However, approximately 30 Rigforce employees affected by the Deliverer’s temporary suspension of drilling have been receiving JobKeeper payments from the company, which has been active in both securing eligibility and making payments to its employees. Crew members will receive the support payment until October 10, 2020, unless they return to work on the Deliverer earlier or if they go into quarantine to start the process of returning to the rig.


Drilling looks to be starting up again on the Noble Tom Prosser (NTP) in July / August with crew commencing to join in June.

As a result of COVID-19 quarantine measures, Noble is looking to implement a roster change for crew onboard the NTP from a 4/4 roster to a 5/5 roster. This would mean workers could meet the Exxon-mandated 14-day quarantine period in Sale prior to mobilising and still enable half of NTPs workforce who live interstate to return home for a week each roster cycle if they chose. The current four-week roster would prove impossible for many workers to navigate as they live in states with their own mandatory quarantine periods. The proposed 5/5 roster will be reviewed as changes are made to respective state quarantine directions.

The AWU will be involved in discussions regarding the proposed roster change. Members are reminded and encouraged to contact their organiser if they have any concerns. As with its crew on the Deliverer, Rigforce is currently making JobKeeper payments to approximately 55 of its employees during the NTP downtime.


Deepwater drillship KG2 has now finished its contract with Chevron and is likely to be leaving Australian waters in the coming weeks. Only a handful of Australian workers will transfer with the rig, leaving the rest without a job. The crew will receive a job completion bonus of approximately 75% of one month’s wages and Rigforce is currently paying JobKeeper payments to 50 crew on the KG2.


With no upcoming work due to COVID-19, the process of redundancies for Diamond crew onboard the Ocean Onyx has begun. Beach Energy terminated its contract with Diamond in the Otway Basin due to the downturn, and despite talks between Beach and Diamond, the Ocean Onyx will be cold stacked with all workers being made redundant in small groups, with approximately 20 redundancies so far.

If you have any questions about the above please reach out to your delegate, organiser or contact us here.

These are testing times for the oil and gas industry but these outcomes show that there has never been a more important time to join your union.

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