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Issue #1564      12 September 2012

Access to rig where two tragically killed

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has welcomed Stena’s decision to finally provide union officials access to the Stena Clyde rig to visit members and discuss safety concerns following an accident on August 27 off the coast of Victoria where two rig workers tragically died.

Deficiencies in the laws governing the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) meant the MUA had to pursue right of entry through Fair Work Australia.

As a result of MUA’s application to FWA, Stena reversed their decision and agreed to let officials fly out to the rig. As a result, MUA Victorian branch secretary Kevin Bracken will be at the rig to talk to workers.

MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said it was extremely disappointing that the company and NOPSEMA had refused to allow the right of entry for the MUA, despite union members on the rig requesting union assistance.

“Unfortunately workers employed on offshore facilities are not afforded the same rights as onshore workers under the federal government’s legislation,” Mr Bray said.

“We strongly urge Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson to amend the legislation to save all parties the difficulty of continuous dispute over right of entry.

“We have just recently seen two workers tragically killed on this site by heavy machinery and it’s important that workers there continue to have all the support they need including access to counselling and support from the union in relation to safety issues.

“The MUA is extremely disappointed that Stena originally decided to block union access but I am glad they have come to realise how important this support is to workers.”

 The MUA issued Right of Entry notices to Stena and Total Marine Services under the Fair Work Act on Thursday August 27, Friday August 28, and Monday September 3, 2012 after members involved in the emergency response to the accident on the Stena Clyde requested that union representatives meet with them and talk about the incident.

The MUA and AWU attended a Fair Work Australia conciliation conference yesterday regarding the lack of union access to the site.

Passage of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (National Regulator) Bill 2011 transferred the responsibility to investigate offshore environmental management practices in commonwealth waters to NOPSEMA from last January 1.  

Next article – Crewman lost at sea, feared murdered

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