MUA calls on Australian Metal and Mines Association to jettison spin and grandstanding and negotiate as Union exempts work on the troubled Montara project and emergency repairs on the Stena Clyde rig from protected action
The Maritime Union of Australia today called on the Australian Metal and Mines Association to abandon the spin and grandstanding they have employed around the union's protected action on the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with Farstad Shipping and settle issues that will be vital for the future of the offshore oil and gas industry.
"The AMMA has applied for a conciliation hearing with the Fair Work Commission which the MUA is happy to be part of. But we call on the AMMA and the shipping company Farstad to stick to the negotiations and leave behind the scare tactics", said Paddy Crumlin National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.
"The Union has conducted negotiations around this EBA for 12 months now and the MUA has only taken protected action as a last resort - which the AMMA knows very well. In no way is the action we are taking frivolous, only granted after proper process and serious consideration by the Commission. In five previous actions under the Fair Work Act involving offshore negotiations the MUA has been successful on all but one occasion.
"We don't take industrial action lightly which is why there are important exemptions to the protected industrial action that begins on midnight Monday night - like a rigorous approach to maintenance and crew safety at the troubled Montara project and emergency work on the anchors of the rig Stena Cyde.
"The AMMA has created the impression that a construction allowance - that would provide parity for maritime workers with riggers - will bring the industry to its knees but they are omitting the facts.
"The allowance would apply to less than 1% (0.8%) of the offshore operations of Farstad and according to a briefing given by the AMMA to the MUA, it will only apply to around 2 per cent of all offshore employers of seafarers generally.
"The idea being perpetrated that this a grab for cash is a cheap shot. On construction projects, which operate 365 days a year, the standard working day is 12-15 hours and the weekly hours are on average around 84. So in fact, the seafarers are working the equivalent of 2 weeks every week. The workers are away from family and friends for lengthy periods and have very limited lifestyle options during the periods they are on these facilities for the duration of a swing. The work has a high occupational health and safety risk and is generally hazardous given the working environment.
"Construction work is tightly defined in the proposed agreement, and the allowance can't flow on to seafarers and workers in related occupations who are not engaged in construction work - even within the wider offshore oil and gas sector.
"On Friday after discussion with Stena Drilling we agreed to exempt emergency repair work to the anchors of the rig Stena Clyde from the strike action due run for 48 hours from midnight Monday. The rig is being towed to Dampier Harbour for the repairs and due to arrive on Monday evening.
"The repair effects both the rig crew and the marine crew on the Stena Clyde and is imperative that the work is done prior to any cyclones. But where was the press release from the AMMA acknowledging this responsible action?
There are other significant exemptions from the industrial action including the troubled Montara project.
Some additional facts:
- Has no relevance whatsoever to the Bluewater or traditional shipping sector. There is simply no flow-back in the EBA agreement.
- The allowance is based on qualifications and designed to give maritime workers parity with riggers. Parity is a fundamental industrial principle - equal remuneration for equal work in the same labour market. In fact, settlement of the parity issue at the commencement of a range of offshore oil and gas projects that will be a feature of the Australian resources industry for several decades will ensure that projects operate without such issues arising at more critical times in the construction schedule, and will provide a basis for stable industrial relations for years to come.
- Employers recognise that there is a huge gap in earnings equity between various worker classifications in the construction sector of the industry. Based on comparative pay scales within the construction sector of the offshore industry, seafarers skills are not being adequately recognised or remunerated. Australian Integrated Ratings (with additional qualifications and skills which are often essential for work on construction projects) are highly skilled and sought after.
- Rather than deny vital spending on training, the offshore oil and gas industry needs to recognize it's failure to include the workforce in its long-term investment planning.
- As investment decisions are made and employment in major projects is ramped up, companies have competed for scarce labour and have ratcheted up the price of labour, fuelled by poor planning, lack of attention to training and competitive industrial relations practices.
- The AMMA has rejected every reasonable approach the MUA has made over the past 4 years, and particularly in the past 12 months - since the Report of the Inquiry into shipping policy and regulation was tabled - to join an industry approach to increase investment in training.
Media Contact: Paddy Crumlin 0418 379660
Michael Meagher: 0410 482367