MUA to continue fight for family-friendly rosters

The WA Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) will continue the fight for family-friendly rosters for more than 300 maritime workers at Farstad.

On Sunday, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) will consider Farstad’s application to prevent protected industrial action by cooks, stewards and seafarers. 

The protected industrial action was sanctioned by the Commission, following almost unanimous support in a secret ballot of members conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission.  The action was originally scheduled to start on Saturday, but interim orders issues by the Commission suspended the action until the matter could be heard on Sunday.

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

The MUA has been in EBA negotiations with Farstad for over 18 months.

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

In an attempt to reach agreement, the MUA has advised Farstad that it is willing to accept a pay increase of 13.5 per cent over four years.

MUA WA Branch Assistant Secretary Will Tracey said the MUA would continue the fight for family-friendly rosters at Farstad, no matter what the outcome of Sunday’s hearing.

“Maritime workers at Fastad are currently away from home for five weeks at a time, putting severe pressure on their families and their own mental health,” Mr Tracey said. 

“Tragically, over the last 18 months, we have had at least four suicides in the offshore industry, and our union is determined to do something about it.

“Farstad refuses to change the current roster from five-weeks on, five off, to the more family-friendly industry standard of four-weeks on, four off.

“While we have been happy to negotiate over wages, the mental health of our members is not something we are willing to negotiate over.”

Mr Tracey said the union remained committed to ensuring Farstad used fully qualified and trained local crews, with higher rates of permanency.