Australian contract company continues assault on maintenance workers
9 November 2017
Around 200 workers formerly employed to maintain Esso Australia’s onshore and offshore oil and gas operations in Victoria are continuing an around-the-clock protest outside the Longford gas plant in Gippsland.
The demonstrations are part of an ongoing dispute that erupted after Esso—Exxon-Mobil’s Australian arm—awarded a five-year maintenance contract to UGL, an engineering and mining company, in February.
Under the new contract, UGL will provide maintenance and other related services to Esso’s onshore oil- and gas-processing plants at Longford, the Long Island Point fractionation plant and Barry Beach Marine Terminal, offshore oil- and gas-producing platforms in Victoria’s Bass Strait and crude oil, LPG and gas pipelines.
Announcing the deal, the CIMIC Group, UGL’s parent company, declared, “Securing this contract reflects UGL’s commitment to delivering cost effective, innovative solutions which optimally maintain our clients’ critical asset.”
In May, UGL made clear what it meant by “cost effective.” It issued an ultimatum to workers that to keep their jobs, they would have to sign up with one of its subsidiaries, MTCT Services, under an enterprise agreement (EA) that substantially reduced wages and working conditions.
MTCT’s work agreement would see workers rehired as casuals, meaning they would lose a raft of permanent-employee entitlements. Pay will be slashed by between 15 and 35 percent, depending on workers’ trade classifications. Week-on, week-off rosters are to be replaced with fortnightly rotations, meaning workers will spend longer blocks of time away from their families. Annual leave arrangements are reduced along with a number of…