Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation

CHEVRON has confirmed it will reduce its global workforce by around 15%, but exactly how many Australian workers will be made jobless remains to be seen.
Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation Chevron Australia job losses a murky situation

Paul Hunt

Deputy Editor: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt


Early last month, an internal memo seen by Energy News, from Australian managing director Al Williams, said the company would look to adjust its business "in response to the immediate impact of COVID-19 and a deteriorating business outlook." 

The memo suggested cuts of 20%-30% of its 2,000-strong Australian workforce. Sources told Energy News the cuts would amount to over 600 personnel. 

Over the weekend, Chevron confirmed to newswire Reuters, it would cut its global workforce by around 15% amid the global oil price collapse and COVID-19 pandemic. The company employs around 50,000 full-time workers. This would equate to approximately 7500 workers across the company. 

However, unions are worried Australian workers would be the hardest hit, disproportionately when compared to other countries. 

In late March, Chevron told shareholders it would reduce its 2020 capital spending by US$4 billion, or 20%, and suspended its $5 billion annual share repurchase program. 

The biggest cut in capital and exploratory spending will target upstream unconventionals, primarily in the major US Permian Basin, where the company will slash more than $2 billion in spending. 

A further $1.2 billion will be hacked from upstream projects and exploration both across its US assets and internationally. 

Around $800 million will be shaved from its downstream and chemicals business. 

In a statement to Energy News today, a Chevron spokesperson said the company had advised its workforce of reduced activity due to challenging market conditions which had resulted in a "review of our resourcing requirements and reductions to our workforce." 

Despite the cost cutting being focused on North America, Australian union members say they are worried that workers here will be disproportionately hit. 

The Offshore Alliance - a coalition between the Australian Workers Union and Maritime Union of Australia - today accused Chevron of viewing its workforce based in Perth as "more expendable than those workers employed in Chevrons San Ramon HQ." 

"To inform staff that potentially almost one in three jobs are going to be cut without any further information, especially in the current environment where job anxiety is already high, is entirely irresponsible and its apparent that Chevron is attempting to announce mass job cuts by stealth by announcing future cuts during a period of large job losses due to the effects of COVID19," the AWU said in a statement. 

"COVID-19 has also delayed our first bargaining meeting for the negotiation of an enterprise agreement for Chevron employees on the Wheatstone platform. The first meeting, which the Alliance secured after taking Chevron to the Fair Work Commission, will now take place on June 18."

In May, the Offshore Alliance told Energy News that the decision to make cuts in Australia was "short-sighted" and "greedy." 

A Chevron spokesperson said they understood the impact workforce reductions would have on the employees. 

"We are committed to providing appropriate support through this difficult period," Chevron's spokesperson said.