MUA Delegates attending the MUA-AWU offshore Alliance Conference held on Monday and Tuesday in Fremantle emerged with a renewed enthusiasm to campaign hard and strong with the community to protect Integrated Rating (IR) jobs and to protect the safety of the marine environment.
Time and again, MUA emphasised the need for seafarers' who are properly trained and experience at sea. That some oil companies continue to believe that they will be able increase profits by simplifying jobs and employing people with fewer skills flies in the face of logic and great deal of detrimental examples such as Montara incident. Luckily there were no injuries, however, oil pollution contaminated thousands of square kilometers of ocean and took over 10 week to cap the gushing oil. We don't want a repeat at any cost.
On the 5th November 2009 Minister Ferguson announced the details of Montara Commission of Inquiry and said, "It is vital that we learn from this incident and take any necessary steps to stop it happening again." 3 years later we want to remind Minister Ferguson of the Montara incident and tell the Minister to take the necessary steps to change the legislative loophole and don't let the oil companies put the workers marine environment safety at risk said Mr. Bray".
The delegates working on Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) invigorated by a clear, renewed plan to campaign for protecting their industry from being de-skilled safety better rights for workers within a fairer and safer offshore oil industry.
The de-skilling is occurring thanks to a loophole in the Navigation Act that defines an FPSO vessel as 'not a ship'. Because of this Woodside is able to employ workers who aren't fully trained in marine skills and don't have sea experience.
A fully qualified Integrated Rating (IR) - the technical term for an Australian seafarer - spends months of 'sea time' training, in order to be fully competent in marine operations. Woodside proposes to replace these workers with workers who have only trained for 6 days.
MUA Assistant Secretary Ian Bray said delegates at the conference had reinforced MUA position to protect IR jobs is to protect the marine environment and community safety at large.
"We have ended two days of conference inspired to pursue to protect the offshore oil and gas industry marine jobs by making sure that the crew on board is fully trained with appropriate sea experienced under their belts on the FPSO vessels," Mr Bray said.
"We went into this Conference with a determined agenda and we have emerged with a well-defined strategy to campaign to close the legislative loophole and protect IR qualifications. The focal point of the Conference was to strengthen the MUA- AWU offshore alliance, and to take the message to Canberra to close the loophole in the Navigation Act that defines an FPSO vessel as 'not a ship' and protect our marine environment safety.
"Delegates at the conference have endorsed recommendations to campaign with a focus to protect their industry and stop the de-skilling of marine qualifications for the interest and safety of the community and the marine environment.
Delegates vowed to take the fight up to Canberra, through a wider campaign to preserve safety at sea and protect proper marine qualifications for all workers in the marine industry and not just theirs, because that is what MUA members do and that is what they expect of the Union they belong to".