Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry

UNION bosses from the Western Australian factions of the Maritime Union of Australia, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have presented a petition to state parliament calling for a parliamentary inquiry into claimed breaches of Chevron's Gorgon state agreement.
Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry Unions petition parliament for Gorgon inquiry

The claims centre on the alleged under-performance of Chevron and its suppliers in their commitment to preference local labour and suppliers in the construction of the Gorgon project.

The project agreement, which was negotiated under the Gallop Labor government and was enshrined in law by the parliament in 2003, requires Chevron to give preference to Australian labour and local suppliers in both the construction and operation of the project.

The petition was presented to shadow industrial relations minister Kate Doust, who agreed to table the document in the legislative council.

"Our union has campaigned long and hard to try to get Chevron to give preference to local steel fabricators for the more than 500,000 tonnes of fabricated steel required to build Gorgon and Wheatstone," AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney said.

"Thanks to our campaign, we managed to get 20,000 tonnes delivered locally, but more than 95% of this work has gone offshore.

"Many local fabrication businesses in Kwinana have closed down, when they should have been booming, and thousands of Western Australians have lost their jobs.

"Now, Chevron is allowing their sub-contractors CB&I to bring welders on 457 Visas to work on Barrow Island, when we have proved there are plenty of fully qualified workers available locally to do the job."

It is understood CB&I conducted an 18-month "be part of something big" recruitment drive, which looked to hire local workers for Gorgon, but that it was unsuccessful in finding specifically skilled local welders.

The company said it had clearly demonstrated its commitment to hire local workers.

"Chevron has demonstrated it is providing full, fair and reasonable opportunity for Australian industry to supply goods and services," the company said.

"The Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas projects alone have created 17,000 jobs in Australia and committed more than $40 billion in goods and services to local businesses.

"These are record numbers that exceed expectations and are benefits that are magnified across the industry."

"The Chevron-operated Gorgon project alone continues to demonstrate this contribution to the Australian economy, having committed more than $27 billion to Australian companies and creating more than 10,000 jobs.

"We will always give preference to the use of Australian labour, services and materials.

"In addition, Chevron has employed hundreds of apprentices and trainees to support Gorgon and Wheatstone as well as employs about 160 university graduates."

CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan disagreed, saying Chevron had failed to meet its local obligations.

"This project should have delivered significant benefit to the WA community by supporting local businesses, creating jobs as well as providing training opportunities for young West Australians," he said.

"In WA, we have the lowest ratio of apprentices to trades people in construction in the whole country, despite having a mining and construction boom.

"The WA community deserves an explanation if Chevron and their sub-contractors have failed to meet their obligation to give preference to Australian labour and local suppliers as defined in the Gorgon state agreement."