SYDNEY, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Workers of Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Australia went on strike on Friday, after last-minute talks between the energy giant and labor unions broke down.
Offshore Alliance, a partnership between the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Workers Union (AWU) representing oil and gas employers, said on social media that the protected industrial action is scheduled to start from 1:00 p.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Friday.
"Chevron are demanding they be given special concessions in bargaining - a demand which we have put through the shredding machine. Their bargaining performance has been the most inept effort of any employer the Union has dealt with in the past five years and our members have had enough," said the union.
As per notices posted by the union, workers at all three of Chevron's west coast facilities would participate in rolling stoppages, bans, and limitations. From Sept. 14, the action could be escalated to full-blown 24-hour strikes each day for two weeks.
"Our members want some say over rosters to ensure they are family-friendly, job security, so they can't be replaced by temporary labor hire employees and to reach agreement on other matters relating to overcycle, training standards, travel arrangements and rates of pay," Offshore Alliance Spokesperson and AWU Western Australia Secretary Brad Gandy said earlier.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Chevron Australia confirmed in a statement that the conciliation sessions with the Fair Work Commission ended on Friday without agreement.
According to the statement, the company bargained and sought to reach a deal that "achieves a market competitive outcome."
"Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions before the Fair Work Commission, we remain apart on key terms. The unions continue to seek terms that are above and beyond equivalent terms with others in the industry, including in agreements recently reached," said the spokesperson.
"We have been advised that industrial action will commence today. We will continue to take steps to maintain safe and reliable operations in the event of disruption at our facilities."
Chevron is currently leading a combined investment of over 80 billion Australian dollars (about 51 billion U.S. dollars) in the Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas projects in Western Australia. Gorgon and Wheatstone, together, have the capacity to produce 24.5 million tons of LNG each year.
Data from Geoscience Australia suggested that in 2021, Australia's LNG exports reached a record high of 81.2 million tons, making the country the world's largest LNG exporter.
In the estimate of the Australian Financial Review, the strikes could threaten about 7 percent of the global LNG supply and 47 percent of Western Australia's domestic gas. ■