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Published: 21 May 2014
Maritime Union of Australia members who work for the marine contractor Tidewater will walk off the job from 4am Tuesday 27th May.
The 48 hour action was sanctioned 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 deckhands.
The MUA has been in EBA negotiations with Tidewater and the industry body, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) for nearly 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 However, Tidewater and AMMA have since withdrawn that wage offer, and refused to meet the MUA’s conditions on job security.
The MUA’s state Assistant Secretary Will Tracey said the union had been forced into industrial action.
“We did the right thing by accepting the wage offer on the table and then they went and ripped it up,” said Mr Tracey.
“AMMA is on the public record as saying the industry can afford 16.5% and we want them to stand by that.”
“Tidewater and AMMA also 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.
“Large parts of the MUA membership 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.”
Mr Tracey said AMMA’s assertion that agreeing to the MUA’s claims would add up to 50% to the total labour costs for vessel operators was grossly exaggerated.
“Their own costings provided to the MUA as part of these negotiations show this clearly to be the case and once again it appears as though AMMA is reluctant to let the truth get in the way of a good story,” said Mr Tracey.
Mr Tracey said research by BIS Shrapnel had also debunked the myth that wages claims by workers were a threat to the international competitiveness of the offshore oil and gas industry.
“The research showed that the wages of maritime workers made up less than one per cent of the cost of building a project like Gorgon.
“Maybe they should have a look at management salaries if they’re worried about their profits.”
Mr Tracey said the Tidewater members would still carry out all safety related duties during the protected industrial action.
This included watch keeping at sea, fire rounds, port security watches and any emergency related issues.