Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management

THE COVID-19 pandemic has seen unions and offshore operators at each other’s throats over pay, hours, conditions, stand downs, threats of strike and accusations of “industrial bastardry” but you wouldn’t know it to read NOPSEMA’s self-penned pat on its own back of this morning. 
Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management Unions call out NOPSEMA's COVID-19 management

Helen Clark

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CEO Stuart Smith singled out "greater collaboration" between industry and unions. 
 
"Workforce concerns are being picked up and addressed earlier. Interaction between the operators and regulators has also been occurring more frequently, and that's enabled issues to be dealt with quickly and flexibly as well," he said. 
 
A union source speaking to Energy News however said "it simply isn't true" and suggested COVID-19 working conditions for many in the offshore industry remain tough. 
 
"That is (NOPSEMA's view) just so far from reality," the source said.  
 
Some operators have introduced special quarantine and isolation provision for workers prior to heading to offshore rigs, while others include different roster patterns, NOPSEMA said today. 
 
Unions fought back against changed rosters with an initial proposition by Woodside for a 12-week swing prompting attacks. Woodside later backed down, agreeing to a two-week isolation period, four weeks on and two weeks off. 
 
The unions called on the offshore regulator, suggesting the hours would have breached the safety case. 
 
"Even the roster they ended up with, it was still unpalatable, it was still a two week quarantine," the union source said today.  
 
"Guys were locked in their rooms with no balconies... there was not much access to the outside world then they were working offshore. It was a six week isolation exercise," the union source said. 
 
"In terms of different roster arrangement there was a complete lack of consultation, (it was)  very threatening between companies and workers
 
"Inpex have been threatening workers if they didn't relocate from interstate they'd be stood down without pay." 
 
Correspondence seen by Energy News between the regulator and unions confirms concerns over rosters, isolation, safety and threats of job loss if workers did not cut short time off to return to work. 
 
Another suggested workers on the Ichthys project FPSO had worked 21 days overcycle and disputed Inpex claims that half days for fatigue management countered this. 
 
The reduced manning on platforms has also led to "a lot of complaints" as it is apparently undermining the established safety procedures. 
 
"There's also definitely mental health issues, numerous complaints around the mental health of workers being ignored," the union member Energy News spoke with continued. 
 
The union source said these complaints were not proactively investigated. 
 
"The interaction with workers is very limited."
 
NOPSEMA noted it worked with the industry body the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association on "Wellbeing Framework"/ 
 
The union member suggested one mental health initiative seemed more designed office staff than those working offshore as it included information on Pilates exercises. 

 

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