MUA threatens Barrow Island operations

muaTHE Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has threatened Chevron with massive disruption on Barrow Island after the oil and gas major launched a legal suit against the union’s WA branch.
Chevron lodged a $20 million Federal Court damages claim for strike action by the MUA at the $57 billion Gorgon LNG project in 2012, blaming the union for the project’s cost blowouts.

The MUA has threatened to condemn Barrow Island under the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITWF) port of convenience campaign unless Chevron has better relations with the union.

If declared a port of convenience it could cause a headache for Chevron, by deeming the island below standard for health, safety and working conditions and disrupting supplies.
“If Chevron continues to seek to exclude my union from an Australian island which will export natural gas then it will have to be declared a port of convenience,” MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said at the ITWF congress in Bulgaria, as reported by the Workplace Express.

“They are suing the MUA for no more reason than workers on the job ensuring that occupational health and safety standards are met.”

If the claim is successful it has the potential to bankrupt the union. “Paddy Crumlin has made the extraordinary claim that because Chevron hasn’t handed over the Barrow Island keys to the MUA that the site should essentially be boycotted,”

Australian Mines and Metals Association executive director Scott Barklamb said. “This is despite Chevron having no direct industrial relationship with the MUA and work on Barrow Island having an impeccable safety record across its five years of operation.”

Mr Crumlin attended Chevron’s annual general meeting in Texas earlier this year to speak with the company’s leaders.

Chevron chief executive John Watson told the MUA there was “no intention of blaming organised labour for cost overruns or delays at Gorgon”. “In recent times the union has shown no restraint in holding a critical part of our economy to ransom in pursuit of inflated wage increases, allowances, benefits, and schemes to control business operations,” Mr Barklamb said.

“Attempts to mask its militant industrial agenda with baseless claims about safety and foreign labour are becoming more transparent by the day.”