International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) president Paddy Crumlin today declared Australia’s Barrow Island a Port of Convenience due to Chevron’s history of union-busting efforts in the offshore oil and gas sector.
Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project off Australia’s north-west coast has blown out from US$37 billion to US$54 billion due to the company’s ongoing mismanagement.
But rather than take responsibility for its poor performance, parts of the company insist unions were to blame, said Mr Crumlin, who is also National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
“Chevron continues to seek to exclude my union from an Australian island to export natural gas which belongs to all Australians, ” Mr Crumlin told international unions at an ITF Conference in Perth, Australia.
“Unless this changes, when the first shipment leaves Barrow Island, it will be declared a Port of Convenience.
“We have made attempts to reach out to Chevron on many occasions, we travelled to their shareholder meeting in Midland, Texas, last year.
“It was there the MUA received an assurance from Chevron chief executive John Watson that unions were not to blame for cost blowouts on the Gorgon project.
“Mr Watson said he had ‘no intention of blaming organised labour for cost overruns or delays at Gorgon’.
“Yet Chevron’s only meaningful response to date has been to sue the MUA for more than $20 million for nothing more than workers on the job ensuring that occupational health and safety standards are met.
“Employers need to clearly decide whether they want to work with unions – and we’ll be there – or against unions – and we’ll be there as well.”
The motion passed by the ITF Dockers Section in Perth “condemns Chevron for its sustained campaign to undermine wages, conditions and workers’ rights in the corporation’s Western Australian operations and exploiting both Australian and foreign labour in its search for increased profits.
“The ITF stands in solidarity with Chevron workers seeking to join a union and collectively bargain and demands that Chevron cease its union-busting against the MUA and commits to entering into a long term and functional relationship with the MUA that respects Australian workers rights, wages and conditions and the MUA’s right to represent them.
“The ITF declares Barrow Island, an island 50 kilometres northwest off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia, a Port of Convenience (POC) when the first shipment of LNG leaves the island and calls on all affiliates to request any company or operator that has an interaction with the designated Port of Convenience to review their existing contractual relationships/arrangements with this port and to provide active solidarity support to the MUA and its members by any and all available lawful means.”