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Issue # 1417      1 July 2009

Rig workers say no to second rate agreement

An employer has failed to bypass the union and introduce a substandard non- union agreement to cover rig workers. Rig workers on the DP Drilling Rig Ensco 7500 off Barrow Island in Western Australia rejected a non-union agreement after meeting with Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers’ Union (MUA/AWU) alliance organiser Glen Williams on June 22.

During a rig inspection Glen got to meet with rig workers to discuss Ensco’s proposed Non Union Employee Collective Agreement. The company had put the agreement out to a vote without any prior discussion or negotiations with the workers.

One group of workers reported that at the end of their last hitch on the rig they arrived at Perth Airport to be met by a company representative. They were then whisked off in a bus to a nearby hotel where a lawyer was waiting with a copy of the agreement for them to sign.

The contract locked workers into very poor terms and conditions of employment for five years. It gave Ensco the right to review salaries annually and without negotiation decide to forgo any pay rise. The agreement also included four weeks hitches and a clause that allowed Ensco to stand down workers on no pay whenever they felt it necessary.

“But the workers all stood together, united and refused to sign this second rate agreement,” said Glen Williams. “They all joined the AWU/MUA Alliance along with most of their workmates.”

Another worker reported that on the tow over from South Africa they went 14 days over their hitch. They were all given $100 per day on top of their wages in compensation for not being home with their families.

“This is totally unacceptable and well below what overcycle payments are across the industry,” said Glen Williams.

The workforce voted NO and rejected the agreement.

The MUA-AWU Alliance will be taking these matters up with Ensco, seeking fair payment for ALL workers on Ensco 7500. The Alliance has contacted Ensco seeking a meeting to talk through many of the issues on the rig and to engage in negotiations towards getting a collective agreement that reflects the standards enjoyed by every other sector of the offshore oil and gas industry.

The Ensco 7500 workers have united together to fight for a fairer go and improved terms and conditions of employment on their rig.

Next arcltie Funding says it all

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