Crumlin targets Chevron in international call-to-arms

Workplace Express is reporting that the MUA has threatened that Barrow Island on WA's northwest shelf might be condemned under the International Transport Workers' Federation's "port of convenience" campaign unless energy giant Chevron improves its relations with the union.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin told the ITF congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, yesterday that Chevron was blaming unions for cost blowouts on the Gorgon LNG project, rather than taking responsibility.

"If Chevron continues to seek to exclude my union from an Australian island which will export natural gas then it will have to be declared a port of convenience," he said.

"They are suing the MUA for no more reason than workers on the job ensuring that occupational health and safety standards are met."

"Employers need to clearly decide whether they want to work with unions — and we'll be there — or against unions — and we'll be there as well."

Crumlin was speaking as ITF president. Earlier this year, he attended Chevron's annual meeting in Texas to quiz the company about its labour relations.

The ITF applies a "port of convenience" designation where health and safety standards or working conditions are deemed below those considered acceptable by international transport unions.

It is part of the ITF's Global Network Terminals campaign which is directed against the big four operators that own about half of the world's cargo terminals — APM Terminals, DP World, Hutchison Port Holdings and PSA International.

The campaign concentrates on the overall supply chain to apply pressure on the big stevedores to change their ways.

The MUA is embroiled in a long-running tussle over new enterprise agreements for vessel operators servicing the offshore oil and gas sector, including Gorgon.

The union is also challenging the Abbott Government's regulations to free up use of overseas workers on offshore projects. In mid-July, Labor combined with the Greens and minor parties in the Senate to disallow the government's regulation to overcome the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 .

Chevron declined to comment on Crumlin's speech.

The MUA's deputy national secretary, Mick Doleman, told the ITF conference that automation of stevedoring was originally seen as being about reducing unit labour costs.

"But what we've seen in Australia with Patrick's at Port Botany suggests otherwise," Doleman said.

"There is no economic case; it's about getting rid of workers, militant workers, workers who don't agree with the boss.

"It’s a tool to get rid of unions from the workplace; we think we have the worst employers in the world — if you think yours are worse, keep them to yourselves, we don't want them."

Meanwhile, TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon, has been elected head of the ITF's road transport section, the first Australian to hold that position.

Sheldon will push for the ITF congress to support a motion calling for airlines to avoid flying over war zones.

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