MUA Tidewater action focuses on job security and family friendly rosters

The Maritime Union of Australia has given marine contractor Tidewater seven days notice of a 24-hour stoppage, to commence 4am Monday 16th June, 2014.

The action was sanctioned under a previous ruling by the Fair Work Commission, after Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations stalled.

Tidewater is one of 22 companies servicing the offshore oil and gas industry, including the Wheatstone project.

MUA members who work for the company include cooks, stewards and seafarers.

The MUA has been in EBA negotiations with Tidewater and the industry body, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) for over 18 months.

The previous EBA expired in June 2013, and MUA members received their last pay increase in July 2012.

The MUA agreed to the 16.5% over four years wage offer from Tidewater, in an effort to reach an agreement. However, Tidewater and AMMA have since withdrawn that wage offer, and refused to meet the MUA’s conditions on job security and family friendly rosters.

“Tidewater and AMMA refuse to change the current roster from five-weeks on, five off, to the more family-friendly industry standard of four-weeks on, four off,” MUA WA Assistant State Secretary Will Tracey said.

“Large parts of the MUA membership, including many who already work for Tidewater, already work four-week swings if they are on one of the offshore construction jobs covered by the proposed agreement, and Tidewater employees want the same conditions across the board.

“Tidewater and AMMA also refuse to commit to using fully qualified and trained Australian crews on their operations, and providing the job security workers deserve. This is a big sticking point for our members.”

Mr Tracey said it was now common knowledge that AMMA had been misleading the community over the wages and conditions of MUA members in the offshore oil and gas industry and their impact on the cost of building LNG projects.

“We have research from both BIS Shrapnel and Sydney University which conclude that maritime wages make up less than one per cent of the cost of building projects like Gorgon, and management issues are to blame for the cost blowouts and delays on that project,” he said.

“Most recently, Chevron CEO John Watson told shareholders that Chevron had no intention of blaming unions for the problems on Gorgon.

“And just last week, we saw safety issues on Gorgon’s upstream loadout facility at the Australian Marine Complex cause the facility to be closed for 10 days, resulting in further delays to the project.”

Work was stopped at the Subsea 7 site at the Australian Marine Complex following two crane rollovers (photos attached), a separate incident with a heavy lift, as well as a man overboard, which could have resulted in a fatality.

“The closing of the Subsea 7 site for 10 days due to a series of serious safety incidents is just the latest in a long line of management stuff-ups, which are damaging this project,” Mr Tracey said.

“AMMA and Tidewater can no longer justify their opposition to job security and family friendly rosters on the discredited argument that the wages and conditions of maritime workers are impacting on the competitiveness of projects like Gorgon.”

The MUA has withdrawn the previous notice served on Tidewater for 48 hours industrial action.

The union will continue informal negotiations with the company in the hope of reaching a resolution without the need for industrial action.

If the protected industrial action does go ahead, Tidewater members will still carry out duties relating to safety and emergency procedures.