The only way is up for West Australian hydrocarbons after Offshore Alliance members working as helicopter engineers for oil and gas aviation company PHI International Australia overwhelmingly backed a union enterprise agreement.
After exactly 11 months of bargaining by Offshore Alliance members, the new EA provides:
- An immediate 10.5% increase in salaries.
- Annual increases of 3% or CPI, whatever is greater.
- Additional allowances including: $4500 a year in DTA payments; $10,000 a year category allowance; $3000 a year type allowance; $400 a night shared-accommodation allowance; and $300 a night offshore allowance.
- Even-time rosters locked in, which can’t be changed without agreement.
- Real annual leave, providing workers with a paid six-week break each year.
- Job security for interstate employees.
- Better cyclone pay.
- Increased redundancy payments.
- Improved access to arbitration.
- Full salary paid during isolation/quarantine, plus $152 a day for expenses.
Brad Gandy, AWU WA branch secretary and Offshore Alliance spokesman, said the Alliance had been keen to represent resources aviation, and the win would be a blueprint to start organising with another operator, CHC, followed by Babcock.
“This is a huge win for aircraft engineers in the oil and gas industry,” Mr Gandy said
“PHI spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to stop protected action occurring and block the OA from enrolling the engineers as members, and then the ramp staff.
“Members and the Alliance showed their tenacity. In the face of a litigious multinational with seemingly bottomless pockets for legal action, the OA just kept moving forward – and won.”
Mr Gandy said the path to negotiations was rocky.
The Alliance contacted PHI in August asking to be recognised as a bargaining representative on behalf of its members. PHI rejected the request.
It wasn’t until November that PHI reluctantly agreed the OA could represent the engineers, but not ramp staff.
The OA then applied for bargaining orders with the Fair Work Commission to determine the coverage of PHI’s ramp staff. That matter is still before the commission.
Meanwhile bargaining progressed slowly, with PHI doing all it could to block the union’s claims.
In February, the OA applied for a protected-action ballot order, which was issued on February 15 with Alliance members unanimously voting “yes” to all actions.
In early March the Alliance gave notice to PHI that members would stop work for 21 days from March 16.
On March 14, PHI won a FWC order to stop the industrial action, but on April 1 the OA provided the company with another notice of industrial action, with members planning to stop work for 10 days.
Just over a month later the OA and PHI reached an in-principle agreement on the new EA, which was finally voted up by members on June 13.
Mr Gandy said the Offshore Alliance had now negotiated dozens of enterprise agreements in the hydrocarbons sector, with more to come.
“The Offshore Alliance is now clearly the offshore oil and gas union – anyone working in the sector should join,” he said.
“The Alliance is member-led and the results speak for themselves.
“No matter what part of the industry you are involved in, you can join the Alliance and we will support and work for you.”