The Western Australian branches of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) today launched a public campaign in support of Gorgon project workers pursuing family friendly rosters through a protected action ballot.
More than 1,000 employees of Chevron's lead contractor CB&I will begin voting on whether to take industrial action from Wednesday this week, after both companies failed to offer any significant movement on the 26 days' on 9 days' off construction roster in series of negotiations beginning more than 12 months ago.
The ballot closes on August 19, and will determine whether workers embark on a campaign of rolling stoppages under the protection of the Fair Work Act's bargaining framework.
The campaign will use print, social media and radio advertising to educate the public on the overwhelming need for action on the length of FIFO rosters in the wake of a spate of suicides and a Parliamentary inquiry into FIFO mental health, which found long rosters were contributing to fatigue and stress and pose a risk to workers' mental health and wellbeing.
Workers are seeking a roster of 20 days' on and 10 days' off, which is a moderate step towards the "even-time" rosters recommended by the bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee. The current roster is 26 days on and 9 days off, meaning workers have to spend almost a month at a time away from their families and communities.
"Despite the recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry, we've seen no real movement on rosters. Workers are prepared to spend two-thirds of their time on Barrow Island. They just want one third of their lives for their families," AMWU State Steve McCartney said.
"We've now received approval from the Fair Work Commission to run a protected action ballot. We owe it to everyone on the island and their families to do everything we can to achieve better, family-friendly rosters," CFMEU State Secretary Mick Buchan said.
"Last year Chevron made over $25 billion in profit. There is no reason why workers building the Gorgon project should not have a family friendly roster as recommended by the Parliamentary Inquiry," ETU WA Branch Secretary Les McLaughlan said.