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New INPEX deal for COVID-19 crisis

INPEX

An Australian Union has confirmed today that contractors and management have negotiated in good faith to strike a deal that will allow INPEX to continue operating effectively, mitigate the risk presented by COVID-19, and ensure workers are not unduly harmed by the impact of change

Through the Offshore Alliance (an alliance between the AWU and MUA for the offshore oil and gas sector) contractors to INPEX negotiated with INPEX management to reach agreement on an arrangement that will allow some 250 workers to continue a cycle of shifts while respecting 14-day isolation periods.

The new proposed roster is a 2/2/2 – 14 days in isolation, 14 days on the facility, and 14 days rest at home. Because workers will spend less time on the facilities than in the current roster, this will allow more workers to be kept in work. (A 2/3/4 roster will be in place for the direct INPEX workforce and some contractors: 14 days isolation/21 days on the facility/28 days home.) During the 14 days of isolation contractors will receive 50% of their usual rate. The new arrangement applies to the period 27 March to 16 April 2020.

“This outcome is an outstanding example of what’s possible when unions and employers work together in good faith,” said Offshore Alliance spokesperson, AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.

“INPEX facilities will continue to operate effectively through the efforts of an engaged and motivated workforce and contractors will continue to be able to provide for their families.

“From the moment this crisis hit, INPEX management’s approach has shown they understand the responsibility they have as employers and as Australian corporate citizens.”

The new deal stands in stark contrast to the draconian approach to contractors deployed by competitor Woodside. After summarily standing down some 500 contractors in the past week without explanation Woodside management have offered these contractors a roster that would be catastrophically unsafe: 14 weeks away from home (including 12 on the platform) and ‘perhaps’ 4 weeks R&R. Woodside intends to determine which roster will be worked with zero input from workers, contractors, or unions.

“INPEX’s decent, honest, and rational approach to negotiation stands in stark contrast to its competitor, Woodside,” Mr Walton said.

“Woodside’s response to COVID-19 so far has been, frankly, unhinged. At a time when Australians everywhere are putting aside differences and pulling together, Woodside management is apparently relishing the pandemic as a chance to crack the whip brutally on an already alienated workforce.

“That any management team could countenance a 14-week stint away from home is jaw dropping. A 12-week on-swing on a platform runs counter to safety standards, mental health guidelines, and common sense.

“I strongly urge Woodside management to take a deep breath, to take a look at the world around them, and to start acting like half decent corporate citizens.”

Image: INPEX

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AMSJ Nov 2021