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Woodside members secure landmark EA

September 10, 2023

After an extraordinary 15-month campaign, the Offshore Alliance has secured an industry-leading Enterprise Agreement (EA) for workers on Woodside’s Goodwyn Alpha, North Rankin Complex and Angel Deep platforms.

The Offshore Alliance is an alliance between The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

Woodside employees represented by the Offshore Alliance began their attempt to engage in collective bargaining in May 2022. They were met immediately with hostility from the oil and gas giant, and a lengthy legal battle ensued, during which Woodside made 11 applications to the Fair Work Commission, including three appeals to a Full bench, every one of which was defeated by the Alliance .

Woodside finally proposed an EA in August 2023, following a marathon 15-hour meeting between management and union representatives. In the subsequent vote, 98 per cent of Offshore Alliance members endorsed the proposal, which locks in a range of conditions including:

  • job security for Woodside workers
  • competency-based level progressions
  • Tier-1 rates of pay
  • roster security
  • safe workplaces
  • improved overcycle and training provisions
  • salary continuance and security for injured/sick workers.

The Alliance’s spokesperson, AWU WA Secretary Brad Gandy, says he was pleased to see Woodside offer an EA that recognises the value Woodside workers create for the company and the difficult conditions they operate under, and he was not surprised by the high endorsement from members.

“From the outset more than 15 months ago, Woodside’s response to the fair and reasonable request of its workers that they have  an industry standard enterprise agreement has been characterised by antagonism, delay tactics and intimidation,” he said.

“Woodside repeatedly rolled out its army of lawyers in a series of meritless and ultimately futile attempts to oppose workers’ requests for a fair EA. International pressure was also brought to bear, with the dispute between the Alliance and Woodside impacting gas prices in Europe by up to 40%.”

“But our members refused to give up. Throughout every obstacle Woodside threw at them, , these workers held firm and fought collectively for what they wanted – an industry standard enterprise agreement that provides job security, roster certainty and sector-leading rates of pay. In the end, all Woodside came away with was a series of humiliating defeats in the Fair Work Commission and legal expenses in the millions.” 

“While it’s regrettable that Woodside’s obstinance meant that our members and the Offshore Alliance had to go to such lengths to secure a reasonable deal, It’s good to see that the company approached the end of bargaining pragmatically and an agreement was made without members undertaking planned protected industrial action.

“This EA is a victory for collective action and worker solidarity against a recalcitrant company that sought to frustrate the legitimate and reasonable wishes of its workers. It recognises the hard, difficult and dangerous work that Woodside workers do and the long weeks spent away from friends and family while on the job. Offshore Alliance members can be justifiably proud of the result.”

“Our work continues in the hydrocarbons sector,” he said. “The Offshore Alliance is the oil and gas union. Join today.”

EA timeline

  1. 3 June 2022 – The AWU collected signed, individual petitions from workers to use as the method for determining majority support. Woodside filed a response opposing the application on 6 June 2022.
  2. 15 July 2022 – Woodside made an application for an order that would force the AWU to provide to Woodside the petitions collected without any redactions protecting the identity of the petitioners. The AWU opposed this application and FWC ruled the signatures were collected with anonymity a condition. 
  3. 20 July 2022 – The AWU opposed the application for the order to produce, and on 20 July 2022, the Commission issued a decision declining Woodside’s application (Production Decision)
  4. 25 July 2022 – Woodside makes a formal application that the Deputy President rescues herself from further dealing with the Application. The AWU opposed the application on the basis that it was meritless and yet another delay tactic.
  5. 26 August 2022 – Woodside appealed the decision to the Full Bench and on 26 August 2022, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission refused permission to appeal the Production Decision.
  6. 14 September 2022 – the Deputy President published a decision declining to recuse herself.
  7. 16 September 2022 – Woodside applied to the Commission to have the direction for the filing of material in the Application vacated until the appeal of the Recusal Decision was heard and determined. The AWU opposed this.
  8. 23 September 2022 – The Commission refused Woodside’s application
  9. 25 October 2022 – the Full Bench dismissed the appeal (Recusal Appeal Decision)
  10. 2 November 2022 – Woodside filed an originating application in the Federal Court of Australia seeking a judicial review of the Production Decision and sought an injunction to prohibit the Commission from further dealing with the Application.
  11. 9 November 2022 – Woodside again requested that the direction for the filing of material in the application be vacated, until the Federal Court application was heard and determined. The Fair Work Commission rejected this request.
  12. 23 November 2022 – the Federal Court dismissed Woodside’s application for an injunction.
  13. 30 January 2023 – Decision made on MSD by FWC with appeal lodged on 6 February 2023.
  14. 1 March 2023 – Woodside appeal dismissed by Full Bench.
  15. 16 May 2023 – application to Federal Court for judicial review discontinued by Woodside.
  16. 20 August 2023 – Woodside members vote uninamously to take protected industrial action within 7 days if an agreement fails to be reached
  17. 25 August 2023 – Members endorse proposed EA following a 15-hour meeting between Woodside and bargaining reps
  18. 20 September 2023 – voting on the EA closes with 98% of workers voting YES

 

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