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New INPEX deal a model for COVID-19 crisis collaboration; Woodside ramps up heartless horror show

March 30, 2020

Contractors and management have negotiated in good faith to strike a deal that will allow INPEX to continue operating effectively, mitigate the risk presented by COVID-19, and ensure workers are not unduly harmed by the impact of change.

Through the Offshore Alliance (an alliance between the AWU and MUA for the offshore oil and gas sector) contractors to INPEX negotiated with INPEX management to reach agreement on an arrangement that will allow some 250 workers to continue a cycle of shifts while respecting 14-day isolation periods.

The new proposed roster is a 2/2/2 – 14 days in isolation, 14 days on the facility, and 14 days rest at home. Because workers will spend less time on the facilities than in the current roster, this will allow more workers to be kept in work. (A 2/3/4 roster will be in place for the direct INPEX workforce and some contractors: 14 days isolation/21 days on the facility/28 days home.) During the 14 days of isolation contractors will receive 50% of their usual rate. The new arrangement applies to the period 27 March to 16 April 2020.

“This outcome is an outstanding example of what’s possible when unions and employers work together in good faith,” said Offshore Alliance spokesperson, AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.

“INPEX facilities will continue to operate effectively through the efforts of an engaged and motivated workforce and contractors will continue to be able to provide for their families.

“From the moment this crisis hit, INPEX management’s approach has shown they understand the responsibility they have as employers and as Australian corporate citizens.”

The new deal stands in stark contrast to the draconian approach to contractors deployed by competitor Woodside. After summarily standing down some 500 contractors in the past week without explanation Woodside management have offered these contractors a roster that would be catastrophically unsafe: 14 weeks away from home (including 12 on the platform) and ‘perhaps’ 4 weeks R&R. Woodside intends to determine which roster will be worked with zero input from workers, contractors, or unions.

“INPEX’s decent, honest, and rational approach to negotiation stands in stark contrast to its competitor, Woodside,” Mr Walton said.

“Woodside’s response to COVID-19 so far has been, frankly, unhinged. At a time when Australians everywhere are putting aside differences and pulling together, Woodside management is apparently relishing the pandemic as a chance to crack the whip brutally on an already alienated workforce.

“That any management team could countenance a 14-week stint away from home is jaw dropping. A 12-week on-swing on a platform runs counter to safety standards, mental health guidelines, and common sense.

“I strongly urge Woodside management to take a deep breath, to take a look at the world around them, and to start acting like half decent corporate citizens.”

Fighting for rights and protecting jobs across oil and gas

AWU officials and delegates have been working tirelessly across the industry to ensure member safety, rights and pay are protected during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s not just INPEX where our efforts have resulted in wins for our members.

Through the Alliance, the AWU has been negotiating with ESSO, Jadestone, Santos and numerous contractors to keep stand downs to the absolute minimum, to ensure members are looked after financially, that health and safety is the number one priority and to ensure that the industry can continue to function during this crisis.

The Alliance continues to reach out to Woodside, and we are hoping that they will see sense.


  • The Maersk Deliverer has been down manned until at least April after a worker tested positive to the virus two days after leaving the rig. But, any contractors who are required to self-isolate will be paid the full rates of pay until the end of the self-isolation or the end of their on-swing, whichever is longer. A great result in the circumstances.


  • Negotiations are taking place with ESSO, the AWU and other unions over roster changes in response to COVID-19.
  • Esso has unexpectedly and suddenly terminated the contract for the Noble Tom Prosser in the Bass Strait with no notice. The NTP will now finish up around 4 April 2020. The NTP currently has about 130 workers on board with many of those contracted casuals.


  • The AWU’s key issue with Woodside is its shameful standing down without pay of more than 750 contractors across a number of its facilities, which now includes the Karratha Gas Plant and Pluto facilities. Woodside must do the right thing and look after members who have served the company with distinction. This fight will continue.


  • The union is currently working with Jadestone to reach settlement on a new COVID-19 agreement to cover workplace health and safety, roster flexibility, accommodation arrangements, quarantine arrangements and additional payments during this period. An update will be provided in due course.


  • New health and safety measures as well as alternative rostering arrangements are being discussed now with Santos for its Cooper Basin operations.

As a critical Australian industry, it is vital the oil and gas sector can continue to operate in a safe manner during the current crisis. The AWU is committed to ensuring the best health and safety measures are implemented across the board and that any temporary rostering arrangements are fair and only implemented after consultation with workers and in circumstances that justify it.

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