Concerns have been raised over discussions between Bechtel and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union about the influx of international and 457 visa workers on Curtis Island.
A letter from Bechtel to the AMWU state secretary Rohan Webb, leaked on Facebook, summarises conversations between it and the AMWU during late 2013 and on January 22, 2014, and indicated Bechtel’s intention to source between 120 and 150 fitters and welders to work across the three Curtis Island LNG construction projects.
The author of the letter claims that after an “exhaustive recruitment campaign” in Australia and New Zealand “Bechtel is no longer able to supply adequately qualified and experienced mechanical trade personnel… to fully staff the Curtis Island LNG Projects”.
“As an approved sponsor company for 457 visa holders, Bechtel is permitted to meet its labour shortfalls by recruiting and hiring international craft workers through the 457 process,” the letter states.
“Recruitment efforts within Australia will nevertheless continue regardless.”
The intention outlined by Bechtel was to source tradespeople from the United Kingdom and Ireland, to commence work in February/March of 2014.
In January a number of redundancies were issued to workers on the QCLNG site, mostly to pipe fitters, some of whom were moved to other sites on Curtis Island.
Responses to the letter on Facebook have expressed outrage within the construction trades community, especially in Gladstone, with many locals claiming to have applied to Bechtel for work, fulfilling all required prerequisites, yet have failed to be considered for positions on Curtis Island.
Both Bechtel and the AMWU have been approached for comment.