Offshore Alliance entitled to negotiate on behalf of specialist workers

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has handed down a ruling that cements The Offshore Alliance’s role as the key industry union representing all offshore gas and oil workers.

In a win for the entire sector, the FWC confirmed the Offshore Alliance is entitled to negotiate on behalf of specialist workers, known as ROV pilots.

The decision means that The Offshore Alliance, made up of The Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, can now start negotiating with all four ROV employers in a bid to improve pay and conditions for around 200 workers.

“This ruling demonstrates that The Offshore Alliance is the union for all offshore oil and gas workers and it will represent and advocate for every worker in the industry. This decision should flag to every employer out there that the Alliance is organising across the entire industry on behalf of every offshore worker,” said AWU WA State Secretary Brad Gandy.

The FWC decision is the result of an application filed by The Australian Workers’ Union (one half of the Offshore Alliance) in response to an ROV employer refusing to bargain with the Alliance.

DOF Subsea had refused to engage with the AWU claiming the AWU didn’t have the constitutional coverage of the work performed by ROV pilots in the oil and gas offshore industry and therefore the AWU couldn’t enrol its employees as members.

Whilst the case was being considered, DOF and another employer put negotiations on hold. Another ROV employer, Total Marine Solutions, commenced bargaining with the Alliance just days before the FWC ruled in the AWU’s favour.

The Alliance will now seek to commence negotiations for new enterprise agreements with all four major employers on behalf of Alliance members at DOF Subsea, Oceaneering, Fugro and Total Marine Solutions.

Offshore Alliance organiser Ross Kumeroa said: “One of the ROV sector’s major players tried to block the Offshore Alliance from bargaining by wrongly claiming that the Alliance cannot have ROV pilots as members. The Fair Work Commission has agreed with the Alliance that this claim is pure falsehood.

“With our coverage now affirmed by the Fair Work Commission, we will set our sights onsetting industry standard terms and conditions across the ROV sector to stop the undercutting of workers’ wages by companies and stop the decline of employment conditions in this highly skilled profession.”

The Alliance will continue to organise ROV workers to increase their collective voice and power with a clear goal of stopping the erosion of conditions in the ROV sector that has and continues to occur.

Mr Gandy said: “The Alliance has a proven and admirable track record of building worker power and improving working conditions in the offshore sector.

“We welcome the decision by the Fair Work Commission and look forward to continuing to represent our ROV members to protect and advance their rights and entitlements at work.”

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