Fair Work Commission backs AWU, workers after Esso
tried to erode pay and conditions
The Australian Workers’ Union and leading workplace advocates Maurice Blackburn
Lawyers today welcomed a decision by the Fair Work Commission to block Esso
from terminating a long-standing workplace agreement, saying it was a significant
victory for hard-working oil and gas workers and their families.
Esso has been trying to strip away the pay and conditions of off-shore Bass Strait oil
and gas workers, and today’s decision is a significant victory for the workers and their
unions, the Australian Workers’ Union, the Electrical Trades Union and the Australian
Manufacturing Workers Union.
Union members have for many years worked on a seven day on, seven day off roster
under long-standing agreements.
Esso has been trying to end the agreement, which could have meant 265 workers
would have been required to work up to 14 days straight without a break. If Esso had
been successful, it would ultimately have had the ability to reduce worker pay by up
to 60 per cent.
FWC Deputy President Val Gostencnik this morning said Esso’s attempts to
terminate the agreement were unfair.
“The unfairness to AWU member employees resulting from the weakening of their
bargaining position and the corresponding strengthening of Esso’s, that would be
brought about by terminating the Agreement, weighs significantly in my conclusion,”
Deputy President Gostencnik said.
AWU Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said Esso should respect the decision and get
on with looking after its workers.
“After five years of hard bargaining, industrial action, and court cases it is time for
Esso to finally offer its employees a fair deal,” Mr Davis said.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Lawyer Kamal Farouque said:
“This is a huge win for union members, their families and the Gippsland community.
Esso has aggressively sought to eliminate long standing pay and conditions of
offshore workers. The Fair Work Commission has comprehensively rejected Esso’s
“Importantly, the Fair Work Commission found that workers had made important
family and personal arrangements around the long-standing 7 day roster. The
detrimental personal impact on some employees and families by the introduction of a
14 day roster, was a factor that the Commission took into account in rejecting Esso’s
“Many employers have tried to terminate enterprise agreements as part of a
bargaining strategy to reduce key working conditions. This decision gives employers
pause to think before they try on these aggressive industrial tactics.”