State Secretary Steve McCartney spoke out for stood-down workers on UCJV, calling on the big companies to do more for the people who make their profits.
AMWU stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at UCJV and condemning Woodside for their actions.
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See below for the full West Australian article
Around 300 workers will be indefinitely stood down at the end of todayafter energy giant Woodside decided to pause works to extend the life of its Karratha Gas Plant.
The contract for the project, which began in 2015, is handled by the United Cape Joint Venture — a partnership between UGL and UK-company Cape.
In late March, Woodside announced it intended to cancel or defer some non-essential activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but the job losses at the Karratha Gas Planet were made official this morning in a memo from UCJV to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (WA).
“As a result of circumstances beyond our control, we cannot usefully employ our employees currently engaged on the Karratha Life Extension Project,” the note from UCJV senior project manager Geoff Baudains said.
“For those employees who are currently stood down there will be no change to the situation. For employees who are currently on roster, you will be stood down effective from the end of shift today.”
The AMWU (WA) estimates 300 people lose their jobs at the end of today’s shift, a mix of Karratha-based and fly-in fly-out workers that includes both casual and full-time employees.
Casuals are understood to comprise at least 60 per cent of those affected and will immediately lose their entire income.
AMWU (WA) state secretary Steve McCartney said UCJV had indicated it planned to bring back 118 workers “at best” but could not provide a timeframe for when they would be recalled.
“They've sacked 300 people today, given one day's notice and put on the plane tonight,” Mr McCartney said.
“Yesterday they had a job, today they haven't got one. They're talking about maybe trying to get some COVID money for the permanent workers but the rest are thrown on the beach.”
Mr McCartney said it was a “disgrace” for a company with the relevant financial strength of Woodside to send hundreds of workers to the breadline.
The job losses come less than a month after Woodside stood down around 400 offshore contract workers without pay from its North West operations.
The UCJV memo said the contractor had been working with Woodside to “identify, minimise and manage potential risks and impacts arising from COVID-19”.
“A further review of essential work scopes and an assessment of the risks associated with COVID-19 has been conducted by Woodside,” it said.
“UCJV has been directed to temporarily cease onsite works with immediate effect. This causes a stoppage of works for which UCJV cannot be reasonably held responsible.”
The memo goes on to say both joint venture partners were “investigating our eligibility for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment and will notify employees as soon as possible.”
UGL declined to comment.
When revealing plans to scale done works at the Karratha Gas Plant last month, Woodside said it was a “difficult decision to take but these are highly unforeseen circumstances.”