23/03/2015 - 11:33

Bigger role for local workers at Ichthys

23/03/2015 - 11:33

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Unions claim to have played a major role in ensuring an increase in the number of Western Australia-based workers building a 900-kilometre pipeline for Ichthys liquefied natural gas project off Darwin.

Bigger role for local workers at Ichthys
LOCAL EFFORT: Inpex’s $US34 billion Ichthys project will feature more Australian workers.

Unions claim to have played a major role in ensuring an increase in the number of Western Australia-based workers building a 900-kilometre pipeline for Ichthys liquefied natural gas project off Darwin.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney told Business News Italian contractor Saipem had agreed to relax its position on Australian employees, who were slated to make up just 40 per cent of the project’s workforce.

“After 22 meetings in nine days with Inpex, Saipan and Skilled we’ve managed to get it to a point where it’s 90 per cent Australian labour,” Mr McCartney said.

Contractor Skilled Offshore had hired about 860 Australian workers, about 80 per cent based in WA, for the fly-in, fly-out construction job, he said. Skilled confirmed the contract, which it said was valued at $200 million.

Welders, scaffolders, riggers and buffer grinders and coaters are already working on the project, building an 889km gas export pipeline at Inpex’s $US34 billion LNG plant.

Mr McCartney said the union had stepped in after reports Saipem intended to use 457 workers who would remain onsite for almost two months at a time.

“They wanted to work people harder, longer for less. They were going to get people working out there for 52 days straight,” he said.

Mr McCartney said the AMWU would continue to negotiate for higher wages for Australia-based workers, despite renewed calls that Australia’s high-cost environment was impeding greater investment.

“The millions and billions of dollars that these oil and gas companies make off the back of our resources makes the wages and conditions on the job irrelevant,” Mr McCartney said.

“These jobs have only got a finite life ... at the end of the day these workers are in bad conditions away from their families for long periods of time doing often dangerous work, so I think they get paid adequately.”

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