Esso Australia steps up offensive against offshore workers


Esso Australia steps up offensive against offshore workers

Terry Cook

28 July 2018

Media reports this week indicated that Esso Australia may renew an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC), the federal industrial tribunal, to terminate enterprise agreements covering 250 workers in its off-shore Bass Strait gas operations in southeastern Victoria. The company is the Australian arm of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas corporation.

If Esso proceeds with the application, the workers could be forced onto industrial awards with inferior working conditions, including a two-thirds reduction in pay. They are covered by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Numerous companies have used similar applications to impose retrograde enterprise agreements negotiated with trade unions that workers had previously rejected, such as at Glencore’s Oaky North mine in Queensland and Griffin Coal in Western Australia.

Esso’s move is its latest provocation in a protracted dispute over new enterprise bargaining agreements. The company is seeking to tear up longstanding working conditions and drastically intensify work processes to slash costs.

The company is demanding a 14-day-on, 14-day-off roster, scrapping the week-on, week-off roster, and the removal of a 75 hours per year cap on overtime. The roster change would mean longer periods away from home, seriously impacting on the quality of life of workers and their families.

Esso also wants to cut wages. It has offered annual pay increases of just 3 percent, barely covering the rise in the cost of living. The previous work agreement expired in 2014 but Esso will not backdate any pay increase, effectively imposing a four-year pay…

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