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Union outrage as workers are locked up with no pay after COVID scare

April 4, 2022

The Offshore Alliance has condemned oil and gas contractor Legeneering over the shoddy treatment of two workers, one of whom contracted COVID on a Woodside floating production storage and offloading facility.

Two members of the Offshore Alliance who work for contractor Legeneering were recently removed from Woodside’s Ngujima Yin FPSO after one tested positive for COVID and the other was deemed a close contact. Both had tested negative prior to mobilising to the site.

The Offshore Alliance, a partnership between the AWU (Australian Workers’ Union) and the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia), covers all workers in the offshore oil and gas industry in Western Australia.

Brad Gandy, AWU WA branch secretary and Offshore Alliance spokesman, said Legeneering had taken both workers off shift at the start of a three-week pay cycle and ordered them into quarantine.

The close-contact worker was paid a single payment equivalent to 7.6 hours of work and sent to a company camp without subsequent pay. The worker who contracted COVID at work was paid nothing, put in a Woodside-owned house and told to live on a $50 a day allowance.

“This flies in the face of the idea of common decency for workers. This is a serious workplace health issue,” Mr Gandy said

“Legeneering claims its key core value is ‘integrity’, but what kind of integrity is shown by refusing to pay workers who have come into contact with COVID-19 at the workplace?

“To add insult to injury, Legeneering is paying a miserly $50 a day per diem for food while the employee is in isolation. That’s just not enough to live on, particularly without any income and in an expensive place such as Karratha.”

Mr Gandy said Legeneering employed over 100 workers but claimed it couldn’t afford to pay employees who become ill after contracting an illness at work.

“Our member wasn’t COVID positive when he mobilised on the chopper, but he has subsequently become positive once on the FPSO. In the circumstances it is untenable that Legeneering is refusing to pay his wages,” he said. “It’s wage theft.”

“Legeneering’s bosses say they are simply following the direction of their client, Woodside.

“If this is correct, Woodside management is out of control and massively out of touch with their oil and gas workforce – including the contractor crews helping generate Woodside’s super-profits during the global energy crisis.

“It’s time companies such as Legeneering stopped trying to convince workers and the union that their hands are tied when it comes to looking after their workers.”

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