TMS Stoppages Centre On Wage Parity

Pursuit of a construction allowance for offshore construction work is at the centre of two 48-hour stoppages planned for Total Marine Services vessels the first beginning midnight tonight, Wednesday December 17.

"Around 140 maritime workers participated in the ballot for protected industrial action and the item heading up their claims is an allowance to give workers parity with the guy, say a rigger, working next to him. It should be a basic work entitlement", said Mick Doleman, deputy national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

Total Marine's activities are spread around the country, including Woodside's massive Pluto project on the north west shelf, Exxon Mobil Corp.'s operations in the Bass Strait off south eastern Australia and Timor Sea projects.

"There are an estimated 25 ships involved in the action, TMS's own ships and ships in the Mermaid Marine fleet, whose crews are partly manned by TMS workers.

The first 48-hour stoppage begins tomorrow 12.01am Friday December 18 and concludes midnight Saturday December 19. After a two-day break a second stoppage will run from Tuesday 12.01am December 22 to midnight Wednesday December 23.

"We realise there is a lot at stake in these billion dollar projects but the stoppages reflect, at least initially, slow progress in negotiation. We are hoping to gain some momentum in talks with TMS management tomorrow. (Friday December 18).