Tidewater maritime workers to strike for 48 hours

Employees of marine contractor Tidewater have elected to
strike after protracted EBA negotiations.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members will walk off the
job for 48 hours from 4am, Tuesday 27 May.

MUA members who work for the company include cooks, stewards
and deckhands.

The previous Tidewater EBA expired in June 2013, and MUA
members received their last pay increase in July 2012.

The MUA has been in EBA negotiations with Tidewater and the
Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) for nearly 18 months.

The MUA had previously agreed to the 16.5% pay rise over
four years offer, but Tidewater and the AMMA have since withdrawn that wage
offer, and refused to meet the MUA’s conditions for job security.

The MUA’s state assistant secretary Will Tracey said the
union was forced take industrial action.

“We did the right thing by accepting the wage offer on the
table and then they went and ripped it up,” Tracey said.

“AMMA is on the public record as saying the industry can
afford 16.5% and we want them to stand by that.

“Tidewater and AMMA also refuse to change the current roster
from five-weeks on, five off, to the more family-friendly industry standard of
four-weeks on, four off.”

“Large parts of the MUA membership already work four-week
swings if they are on one of the offshore construction jobs covered by the
proposed agreement, and Tidewater employees want the same.”

The AMMA has suggested that agreeing to the MUA’s claims
would add up to 50% to the total labour costs for vessel operators

Tracey said this was grossly exaggerated.

“Their own costings provided to the MUA as part of these
negotiations show this clearly to be the case and once again it appears as
though AMMA is reluctant to let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Tracey also said research by BIS Shrapnel has debunked the
myth that wages claims by workers were a threat to the international
competitiveness of the offshore oil and gas industry.

“The research showed that the wages of maritime workers made
up less than one per cent of the cost of building a project like Gorgon,” he

“Maybe they should have a look at management salaries if
they’re worried about their profits.”

Tidewater is one of 22 companies servicing the offshore oil
and gas industry, including the Wheatstone project.

Image: ABC

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