Disapproval over local redundancies at Queensland LNG projects

Union representatives in Gladstone have expressed their disapproval at local workers being made redundant before FIFO staff at the Curtis Island LNG projects.

During construction of the QCLNG, APLNG and GLNG gas plants, principle contractor Bechtel employed 26,000 people, of which 9000 w2ere from the Gladstone area.

With construction all but complete on the QCLNG plant and the first gas shipment due in the second half of 2015 from the Santos owned GLNG plant, worker numbers have been wound back to 5000 FIFO workers and 2670 local workers.

The Gladstone Observer noted that redundancies have increased the ratio of local workers from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

A spokesperson for the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) said low employment in the Gladstone region meant Bechtel should be doing more to keep locals employed.

"Gladstone has a youth unemployment rate over 13% and companies like Bechtel have a responsibility to the community here to look after local workers," ETU spokesperson said.

AMWU organiser Phil Golby has joined the critique, raising the issue of six foreign workers who are still on site despite the redundancies of Australian citizens.

“It's still six jobs that should be filled by local people, especially with the way the job market is here right now," Golby said.

The workers employed on 457 visas were hired as special class welders and pipefitters.

The AMWU agreed EBA clause outlines that foreign labour can only be sources after extensive recruitment efforts to show there are insufficient qualified workers in the Australian workforce.

Bechtel general manager Kevin Berg said the local workers had, on average, been kept on for 19 weeks longer than FIFO workers (44 weeks).

"To date, we have had over 7000 craft redundancies on these projects. We have ensured we complied with the law and retained the right people with the right skills so that we maintained our ability to perform work," Berg said.

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