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Inpex fight wins AWU Campaign of the Year

January 19, 2023

A landmark fight to replace a long-expired baseline enterprise agreement for workers on Japanese oil and gas producer INPEX’s Australian offshore and onshore facilities has been recognised as the AWU’s Campaign of the Year.

The three-year battle, which resulted in big gains in pay and conditions for about 370 workers across three INPEX facilities, also led to a surge in union activity and set the benchmark for enterprise agreements for Tier 1 operators throughout the oil and gas industry.

The new INPEX agreement includes a new 12-classification structure (up from two), base pay rates of $125,000 to $258,000 plus allowances (up from a previous baseline of only $92,000-$102,000), a $22,000 a year increase in the offshore allowance, and guaranteed annual wage increases.

There are new job security provisions, better redundancy provisions, rostering protections, a new $10,000 annual travel allowance, better superannuation entitlements, new income protection insurance, and improved dispute resolution procedures and rights.

And there are new training-day payments, an increased overcycle to 135% for all hours, employees seconded to office work now keep their operations allowances, and interstate FIFO employees can continue with INPEX until at least 2030 (a six-year extension).


(L-R) QLD Branch Secretary Stacey Schinnerl, former QLD Branch Secretary Steve Baker, WA Branch Secretary Brad Gandy, Offshore Alliance organiser Ross Kumeroa, National President Marina Chambers, QLD Northern District Secretary Luke Mangano and National Secretary Daniel Walton celebrate the winners.

“This was the first comprehensive enterprise agreement the Offshore Alliance struck with a Tier 1 operator and the conditions it contains are outstanding,” AWU National Secretary Dan Walton says.

“Union members stared down a huge multinational with an army of lawyers trying to stop them from bargaining and walked away with a strong outcome that will serve as a benchmark for agreements with other Tier 1 operators.”


The campaign to commence bargaining with INPEX commenced in early 2020 with the company often aggressively opposing union attempts to commence bargaining.

Once the Alliance had secured the commencement of bargaining after a year of campaigning and legal applications, the company informed the union that it wanted a baseline agreement with minimum conditions that would have been far below workers’ actual conditions of employment, and it continued to stall or drag its heels on key issues.

But after months of negotiations and the Alliance securing a protected action ballot order in the Fair Work Commission, the company backed down and the Ichthys Operations Enterprise Agreement 2022-2026 was born, with 87% of employees endorsing it.

AWU National Oil and Gas Organiser Zach Duncalfe says that while many of the conditions secured in the EA were already being paid by INPEX through individual employment contracts, securing them in an enforceable EA is a big improvement.

And the win has led to an increase in union activism and participation amongst the INPEX workforce.

“With this EA, the terms and conditions on employment are there for everyone to see and for the union to enforce, rather than being buried in individual employment contracts,” he says.

“The Offshore Alliance more than tripled union membership with INPEX throughout this campaign, which allowed the union to advocate for its members even more effectively.

“The tenacity and success of the Offshore Alliance has paid off not just in membership growth but in workers re-engaging with the union and unionism in general.”

Mr Duncalfe says the conditions INPEX workers now receive are market-leading, and the campaign has had a flow-on effect on negotiations with other Tier 1 offshore hydrocarbons operators, such as Shell, Chevron and Woodside.

“To have members dig in to win the gains they have has changed the landscape in regard to bargaining with other Tier 1 operators in the industry.

“These members have not only secured a great outcome for themselves, they’ve assisted others working throughout the industry to achieve similar gains. ”

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