AMMA undemocratic in opposing Tidewater industrial action

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has branded the Australian Mines & Metals Association (AMMA) undemocratic in its opposition to industrial action planned for next week.

This week, the MUA gave marine services company Tidewater seven days notice of its intention to take 48 hours of protected industrial action. The action had been approved by the Fair Work Commission on the basis that a secret ballot of MUA members had 100 per cent support for industrial action.

Tidewater is one of 22 vessel operators which worked on the construction of projects like Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects.

AMMA has lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to prevent the stoppage going ahead. MUA WA Assistant Secretary Will Tracey said AMMA was ignoring the unanimous view of workers.

“Given the working conditions of workers in the offshore oil and gas industry, it is no surprise that a secret ballot of Tidewater workers saw 100 per cent of them vote for industrial action,” Mr Tracey said.

“Maritime workers in the offshore oil and gas industry work six swings of 28 days straight, in dangerous and extreme conditions.

“This equates to 2,016 hours each year, or almost 54 weeks of a standard 37.5 hour week, such as AMMA staff might work in their office.

“Making this worse, offshore oil and gas workers don’t get to see their families for a month at a time, missing important events, with significant impacts on their relationships and mental health.

“AMMA’s application to prevent industrial action ignores the democratic will of the workforce and the huge sacrifice these workers and their families make to build projects for companies like Chevron.”

Mr Tracey said the offshore oil and gas industry could afford to pay its workers well, with BIS Shrapnel research showing that less than one per cent of the cost of building projects like Gorgon was attributable to maritime wages.

He said the MUA would vigourously contest AMMA’s application and would continue to campaign until Tidewater agreed to a new EBA, which committed to jobs for fully qualified local workers, fair wages and family friendly rosters.

The two parties will attend a hearing in the Fair Work Commission on Monday.