The MUA has strengthened its relationship with the AWU with the joint signing of a new offshore alliance to determine union coverage in Western Australia's booming offshore gas industry.
The new offshore alliance document updates the 2003 agreement – signed by MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and then AWU leaders Bill Ludwig and Bill Shorten – that aimed to ensure there were no demarcation disputes between the two unions.
Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union MUA Division Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said the alliance was being forged at a critical time.
Tracey said the floating processing ship, Prelude, was about to come online and the AWU and MUA were having the normal union discussions around which union covered which workers.
"Instead of following the old framework, this time we saw the opportunity to work together to organise the industry through an Offshore Alliance," Tracey said.
"This alliance will see Australia's two biggest blue-collar unions working together to organise all workers in the offshore industry.
"By working together and pooling our resources we have a real opportunity to do what we couldn't do by ourselves.
With over 40 platforms, plants and offtake tankers operating in WA, and some 20,000 employees in the oil and gas sector, both unions said they have a responsibility to ensure workers get a fair deal from the resource companies.
Both unions have each supplied an organiser to work full-time on the Offshore Alliance.
The Offshore Alliance will have a single application form with workers effectively becoming members of both unions, which would split the membership fees.
"The Offshore Alliance will enable our unions to work cooperatively to organise offshore workers and be a powerful voice for workers' rights,” Tracey said.
"Members in WA's offshore gas sector will get access to the resources and benefits of both unions.”
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said the time right for the historic alliance as Western Australia accounts for more than 75 per cent of Australia’s – and 15 per cent of the world’s – liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.
“The AWU and the Maritime Division of the CFMMEU have been trying to organise the offshore industry for two decades,” Walton said.
“But due to a range of unique challenges in the sector, our unions have traditionally had mixed levels of success.
“The large resource companies have had some success in playing unions off against each other. I am confident the Alliance will put an end to this and allow offshore workers to organise.”