Maritime union faces $3m hit for unlawful action after dispute with energy giant

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said “We welcome the resolution of this long standing issue, which has been going on for more than seven years and began with a $22 milllion lawsuit against the MUA.

“We accept the $30,000 fine, which allow us to finalise this issue and move on with developing a more constructive and functional relationship with the company.

“The Offshore Alliance joint venture between the MUA and the Australian Workers Union is about to commence negotiations across Chevron’s offshore operations for a collective agreement, which offers an opportunity for the parties to work together at this critical juncture as we face the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“This collective agreement, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of Chevron’s direct employees, provides an opportunity to deliver a good outcome for the company’s business requirements along with the needs of their direct offshore employees.”

Sydney Morning Herald Article:

By Nick Bonyhady

April 9, 2020 – 6.26pm

The Maritime Union of Australia has agreed not to launch any unlawful strikes or pickets against multinational energy company Chevron for the next decade or forfeit $3 million under an agreement reached in a protracted dispute over the company’s use of foreign labour.

If it breaches the agreement and is forced to give Chevron the compensation payment, it would be one of the largest payments ever levied against an Australian union but much smaller than the $22 million the company initially sought over the union’s campaign to keep foreign crews off Chevron ships.

The Maritime Union WA boss Chris Cain said in emails that his union had delayed a Chevron ship.CREDIT:PHILIP GOSTELOW

The fine will hang over the union as it enters into negotiations with the company on a new enterprise agreement covering workers at its offshore facilities, which include multibillion-dollar gas fields.

Federal Court judge Katrina Banks-Smith on Thursday ordered the union, which is one of the country’s most strident, to pay the fine if any of its organisers or delegates have a hand in any unauthorised industrial action at any Chevron project, including its giant Gorgon gas field.

The union will still be permitted to undertake industrial action where it is allowed under legislation.

Justice Banks-Smith’s decision, which put into effect a deal agreed between the union and company, ends an almost eight-year-long dispute that began when the union held up a ship called the RollDock Sun transporting freight to the Gorgon project for two days in June 2012.

Chevron’s Wheatstone project in Western Australia.

The union was angry the vessel was crewed by foreign workers rather than local seafarers.

In one email to other union members quoted in the court’s judgment, the union’s Western Australian secretary Chris Cain said it had “been f—ing this vessel about for the last 2 days” and went on to list ways the union would use safety measures to delay it further.

The judge criticised the union for using safety as a tool of industrial conflict and issued an immediate penalty of $30,000, in addition to the $3 million potential compensation payment to Chevron.

“We accept the $30,000 fine, which allows us to finalise this issue and move on with developing a more constructive and functional relationship with the company under the existing industrial bargaining framework,” Mr Crumlin said.

The maritime union, which is part of the CFMMEU, is bargaining for a new enterprise agreement at Chevron in coalition with the Australian Workers Union.

“This collective agreement, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of Chevron’s direct employees, provides an opportunity to deliver a good outcome for the company’s business requirements along with the needs of their direct offshore employees,” Mr Crumlin said.

Chevron declined to comment.

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