Woodside Reaches Agreement to Prevent Strike at Australian Gas Assets; Chevron Still Faces Labor Dispute
Posted 25/08/2023 12:55
Australian energy major Woodside has successfully reached an in-principle agreement with the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), the Electrical Trades Union, and other negotiating representatives on an enterprise agreement (EA) covering approximately 150 employees stationed on its North West Shelf offshore platforms. This accord aims to avert potential industrial action. However, Chevron remains embroiled in a labor standoff as it lacks a comparable agreement.
Woodside clarified that the in-principle agreement encompasses all claims related to compensation and other employment terms and conditions, ensuring the continued delivery of secure and safe energy supply to Western Australian and global gas consumers.
According to the company, the next steps include finalizing the enterprise agreement, which will then undergo voting by employees and seek approval from the Fair Work Commission. During this process, the unions have committed to abstain from filing a notice of protected industrial action.
While acknowledging the collaborative efforts during the negotiation process, Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill emphasized the company's commitment to engaging in respectful and constructive dialogues with all personnel, working together to conclude the agreement and sustain the reliable energy supply to customers.
The Offshore Alliance, a coalition comprising the Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), also confirmed that over 150 members stationed on Woodside’s offshore platforms – including Goodwyn Alpha (GWA), North Rankin Complex (NRC), and Angel – off Karratha’s coast would convene to decide whether to endorse the agreement following an extended 15-hour session at the company's premises.
Goodwyn Alpha, a production platform operational since 1995, produces dry gas and condensate. Situated in Commonwealth waters off the NWS of Western Australia, the GWA platform is located about 138 km northwest of Dampier and 23 km southwest of the North Rankin Complex.
The Angel platform, active since 2008, is positioned in Commonwealth waters within production license area WA-3-L, approximately 125 km northwest of Karratha in Western Australia. Woodside’s North West Shelf project’s Joint Venture partners include Woodside, BP Developments Australia, Chevron Australia, Japan Australia LNG (MIMI), and Shell Australia.
Meanwhile, the threat of a strike looms over Chevron as it has yet to secure a comparable enterprise agreement with its workforce. Workers at Shell’s LNG facilities secured an EA last year after 76 days of protected industrial action, while INPEX’s facilities reached a deal with the union earlier in 2022.
Brad Gandy, AWU WA Secretary and spokesperson for the Offshore Alliance, highlighted Woodside’s proactive approach in reaching an agreement without necessitating industrial action. Gandy emphasized that Woodside’s pragmatic stance in offering an enterprise agreement with industry-standard terms and conditions is a positive outcome. He noted that members of the Offshore Alliance will vote on endorsing the agreement and decide whether to withdraw plans for industrial action.
Should the in-principle agreement gain endorsement, Chevron would be the sole operator of gas fields in Western Australia without an enterprise agreement. Chevron’s workforce at Gorgon and Wheatstone are currently voting on whether to take protected industrial action.
The Gorgon facility, situated on Barrow Island, consists of a three-train LNG facility with a capacity of 15.6 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) and a domestic gas plant. The Wheatstone project is Australia’s primary LNG hub, comprising two LNG trains with a combined capacity of 8.9 mtpa and a domestic gas plant.
Brad Gandy underscored that Offshore Alliance members are seeking industry-standard employment terms, considering Chevron's substantial profits and substantial export revenues. He reiterated the importance of equitable terms and conditions for employees across the energy sector.