Offshore Alliance members have overwhelmingly voted to push ahead with industrial action to further bargaining claims that will improve job security, rostering and conditions at Applus+.
The Offshore Alliance, comprised of The Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, was forced to seek approval for the action from the Fair Work Commission after Applus+ repeatedly rejected the Alliance’s key enterprise agreement claims.
The latest decision comes after months of stalling by Applus+ which had to be forced into commencing bargaining with around 100 of its employees who perform work on Woodside facilities – both onshore and offshore – by the Offshore Alliance through an application to the Fair Work Commission.
AWU WA Branch Secretary Brad Gandy: “Applus+ made it clear from the start that it did not want to engage in bargaining with the Offshore Alliance. It was quite happy with dictating pay and conditions as it saw fit by negotiating individual contracts. That may be good for Applus+ but it’s a terrible position for its employees. They deserve job security and better conditions which can only be guaranteed through an enterprise bargaining agreement.
“What the members are asking for is not unreasonable. We are just trying to negotiate a fair deal that would deliver these workers secure terms and better conditions of employment.
“Our members don’t take the threat of industrial action lightly, but Applus+ left us with no choice by refusing to engage with us and meet any of our key demands around job security and rostering.
“The Offshore Alliance will now consult with members over what course of industrial action we will pursue over the next 30 days but will ensure that safety is not put at risk at any sites. Our members have agreed to step in and perform any urgent and unforeseen work that is critical to safety at Woodside sites.
Alliance members now have 30 days in which to take action. No decision has yet been made on what action will be taken but this will be done in direct consultation with members and the Alliance will provide Applus+ with seven working days’ notice of any planned action.
Mr Gandy added that current calls by the Australian Mines and Metals Association to change the notice period from seven days to 14 was just a cynical attempt to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to infringe the rights of working people .
Mr Gandy said: “Industrial action is rare and it’s vitally important that no more barriers are introduced to further reduce the effectiveness of industrial action. Every worker has the right to withdraw their labour and Australia already has some of the most restrictive strike laws in the world. The Australian Mines and Metals Association is not concerned with safety, it is only concerned with eroding worker rights.
“Applus+ has a very simple decision here. Genuinely engage with the Offshore Alliance and deliver what our members deserve and we’ll take the industrial action off the table.”
Timeline and background
July 17 The Offshore Alliance secured an order from the FWC forcing Applus+ to commence bargaining with employees.
Oct 12th – first meeting with Applus+ took place.
Dec 11 AWU made an application to the FWC for a protected action ballot to take place after Applus+ continued to reject AWU’s key claims around job security, rates of pay, allowances, dispute resolution procedure and rostering provisions. They include:
- Rosters – the Alliance wants to maintain the even time roster;
- Dispute Resolution – the Alliance is calling for arbitration on referral by either party, not with consent of employer;
- Rates of Pay – there are issues regarding relativity between rates of pay for inspectors and engineers in comparison to other site personnel which need resolving;
- An Offshore Allowance to be paid.
- Job Security – calling for a clause that stops the company from being able to hire labour hire workers at rates and conditions lesser than the direct hire employees.
On 24 December 2020, against the wishes of the Alliance, Applus asked employees to vote on its version of the EBA. The Applus+ version of the EBA ignored almost every single bargaining claim the OA has put forward in bargaining.
The Alliance ran a ‘no’ campaign. The employees voted overwhelmingly to reject that version of the agreement – 92% said no.
Dec 18th – FWC grants the order for protected action ballot to go ahead which was done electronically and closed on Jan 9th
Jan 11 – Results of the protected action ballot – 100 per cent of those who voted endorsed holding one hour, two hour, four hour and 24 hour stoppages. 98 per cent endorsed various other possible strike actions including bans on performing certain duties and no overtime.