Union deal with Woodside bans WA strikes

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Construction and metalworkers unions have agreed to a seven-year ban on illegal strikes at Woodside’s main WA projects in return for the company suspending millions of dollars in fines against their members.

The agreement between the unions and 13 construction contractors still needs to be ratified by the Federal Court, but according to The Australian the Australian Building and Construction Commission will still request the court to impose fines on workers despite the deal.

Yesterday Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union WA secretary Kevin Reynolds labelled the ABCC’s threat “bloody-minded”.

In January last year 1300 workers staged illegal strikes at Woodside’s $12 billion Pluto LNG project over accommodation facilities.

Under the arrangements, workers had to change their transportable “dongas” at the end of every four-week shift instead of having their own permanent unit.

The workers face two daily penalties of $300 each for alleged breaches of the Fair Work Act, and a $1000 fine for a breach of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act over a period of up to six days.

The fines could be up to $9600 for each worker, and total almost $13 million for the 1300 workers.

The agreement will apply to 414 of the workers represented by the CFMEU and 242 workers represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

It excludes 600 unrepresented workers and around 80 workers represented by the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union.

The CEPU was yesterday understood to be in its own negotiations with the contractors.

Mr Reynolds said he was unhappy with the deal, but it had been struck in an effort to avoid workers paying the fines.

“Of course we’re not f . . king happy with it, but that’s the laws we live under in this country at the moment,” he said.

“Workers have got no right to strike here. Labor or Liberal, makes no difference.”

Last month CFMEU assistant secretary Joe McDonald agreed to pay over $1.5 million in fines for his role in encouraging illegal Pluto strikes.

AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney said his union had never supported illegal strikes and was disappointed the ABCC was still pushing the court to fine workers.

“We don’t see how it would be in the public interest to increase the penalties,” he said.

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