Australian Workers at Three Energy Plants Halt Work
Three Australian Energy Plants Shut Down By Striking Workers
The protest at the facilities producing liquefied natural gas, which accounts for approximately 6 percent of global fuel supply, occurred due to the lack of progress in negotiations regarding salary and working conditions.
September 8, 2023, at 2:15 am Eastern Time
On Friday, a large number of individuals working at Chevron's liquefied natural gas facilities in Western Australia ceased their activities, resulting in an industrial action that impacts three plants responsible for approximately 6 percent of the global production of this crucial fuel.
Around 1 p.m. in the vicinity, approximately 500 workers initiated brief pauses in their work and put restrictions on certain tasks, following the deadlock in union talks concerning wages and working conditions.
The planned halts are set to persist until Thursday. Should the deadlock persist at that juncture, the labor unions will intensify the situation by conducting consecutive strikes lasting up to 24 hours per day, over a two-week period, as stated by the Offshore Alliance, which is a joint effort of two labor unions advocating for energy employees.
The strike, which was planned to take place at Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone onshore processing plants, as well as its Wheatstone offshore platform, was supposed to begin on Thursday morning. However, it was postponed as Chevron and the labor unions made efforts to reach an agreement with the help of a government agency.
The two parties have been engaged in discussions for approximately two years, yet they have failed to reach a consensus on various matters such as salary, employment assurance, timetable, and openness regarding the categorization of tasks, according to statements from the labor unions.
According to a statement by Brad Gandy, a representative of the union, members of the Offshore Alliance are participating in legally protected protest activities due to Chevron's stubbornness in rejecting a collective agreement that adheres to the norms followed within the industry, which should apply to these facilities.
A representative from Chevron stated that the company had engaged in negotiations "with honesty and sincerity," but there are still significant differences between the two sides on important matters.
The representative mentioned that they will persist in implementing measures to uphold secure and dependable functioning in case there are any disturbances at their establishments.
The combined capacity of Gorgon and Wheatstone is approximately 25 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas produced annually.
The labor dispute is happening fourteen days after a potential strike was avoided at an adjacent establishment, Energy's North West Shelf. The conflicts between workers and management have caused instability in the prices of gas across Europe in the past few weeks.
Saul Kavonic, a specialist in energy analysis, stated that the discussion about potential strikes has left European gas traders feeling anxious. This is primarily due to the limited availability of natural gas as a result of Russia's incursion into Ukraine.
After that invasion occurred, Russia reduced its provision of natural gas to Europe, leading to countries in that region depending more on international supplies of liquefied natural gas, he mentioned. Mr. Kavonic stated that any disruptions in the supply at present could have severe outcomes for energy security in both Asia and Europe since these markets are now extremely interconnected.
However, he mentioned that it was "too early to conclude" that the strike at Chevron's sites would cause any major disturbance in the worldwide fuel production.
"There is significant stress exerted in this situation, hidden from the public eye, impacting both the business and the labor unions, aiming to prevent this matter from intensifying," expressed Mr. Kavonic. "The Australian authorities are keen on avoiding any further damage to their image as a dependable energy provider."