Friday the 13th Nightmare for Workers on Chevron’s Barrow Island

The Maritime Union of Australia says workers on Chevron’s Barrow Island are stuck in a horror movie after the company stuffed up its plans to evacuate its workforce ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Olwyn.

Media reports say Cyclone Olwyn has intensified to Category 3 and is expected to cross the Pilbara coast today.

There are more than 1,000 workers on Barrow Island, many of whom are now expected to sleep on blow-up mattresses on floors and in corridors.

A support vessel for the Gorgon Project, The Europa, has done its best to avoid the cyclone but the union is being told the vessel has been battling eight metre swells.

An email from an MUA member – who does not wish to be named - says many onboard are sea sick and unable to leave their rooms.

“Half the staff are sick to their stomachs due to the outrageous weather conditions, the glass window shattered in the galley near the dining room, and the waves are nearly as big as half the boat,” the email says.

“People are just getting weaker/sicker by the day and don't know how to react!”

MUA WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain said the horror scenario raises more questions than answers.

“Workers are scared and confused and you really have to question Chevron’s management of this entire episode,” Mr Cain said.

“Gorgon is a multi-billion dollar project requiring thousands of workers on Barrow Island yet there is not enough accommodation to house the workers adequately in an emergency.

“The union is being told the operation to evacuate workers was left until too late for it to happen safely. Why was it left too late? Why did the company keep people working until it was unsafe to evacuate them?

“Workers are now unnecessarily stranded on Barrow Island in their own Friday the 13th nightmare – and it’s Chevron’s fault they are still there.”

The MUA backs the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s call for the Western Australian Department of Commerce’s WorkSafe division to investigate.