Offshore Union Alliance Win for Filipino Guest Workers

The MUA joins with the AWU to welcome the decision by the Fair Work Ombudsman to prosecute three companies, and one company director, over more than $120,000 in alleged underpayments of four Filipino nationals who worked on oil rigs off Western Australia.

The AWU has been fighting for the rights of these four workers since the beginning of the year.

Union activists - members of the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance - discovered that these workers were being paid around $3 an hour. This is less than a high school student working at McDonalds.

"The sad fact for those four Filipino workers was that they were earning $900 a month for working an 84-hour week on a floating oil rig located several hundred kilometres off the coast of Western Australia in a cyclone zone," said Paul Howes, AWU National Secretary.

" It is not the first time that the union has discovered, and campaigned, to protect guest workers who were being forced to work under slave-labour style conditions on our off-shore oil and gas fields.

"Cowboy outfits are maximising oil and gas profits while misusing Asian workers.

" Back in 2008 we were promised by Canberra that cowboy outfits trying to maximise their oil profits on the back of Asian guest workers would not be allowed to operate off Western Australia.

" We accepted those promises in good faith, only to discover that the big multinationals , three years after being promised this would never happen again, were still misusing Asian workers.

" Filipino and other Asian workers are now being brought in by dodgy sub-contractors, while the big brand name oil and gas multinationals wash their hands of all responsibility," Paul Howes said.

Big multinationals must accept corporate responsibility - right across the labour supply chain.

" The AWU has for a long time accepted that the huge demand for our national resources might mean the need to import some labour - if Australians were not available for the work.

" But we've always said that these workers must be treated with respect and decency, and able to earn the same wages Australians would expect for the job.

" After this latest incident the AWU will now sit down with the Federal Government, and major resource companies, to insist that the head contractor takes responsibility for the treatment of all workers involved in their projects - right across the labour supply chain," Paul Howes said.

The AWU-MUA Offshore Alliance will fight unscrupulous employers.

" To ensure Australian community wide support for guest worker schemes we must ensure unscrupulous employers do not simply use the program to maximize their profits, and undermine our working conditions.

" We must deliver respect and decency to foreign skilled workers coming to work in the resource sector. The best way is to ensure responsibility is taken right across the labour supply chain to deliver decency and respect and then to act quickly, and decisively, to shut down scams."