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The AWU’s strong presence in the oil and gas sector is paying dividends for workers

April 7, 2020

Offshore Alliance delegates and organisers have been working non-stop to minimise the risks presented by COVID-19 and prioritise worker health and safety and job security.

The Alliance has secured some great wins, including the current and former INPEX arrangements which were arrived at through some genuine collaboration with INPEX.  Great outcomes such as this have shone a very public spotlight on Woodside, which has shown a heartless disregard for worker safety and circumstances once being stood down.

It’s still early days, but no facilities have stopped production. Whilst there have been stand downs and redundancies across all major employers, operators are now focusing on securing changes to rosters and relocating interstate workers to WA to deal with the impending hard border closure. The Alliance has ensured members’ interests have been represented in any discussions about rosters, relocation and health and safety. The Alliance has secured and supported reasonable necessary changes that will allow many workers to continue working safely and continue to provide for their families during this crisis.

New fly-in fly-out measures due to the closure of state borders are being scrutinised carefully by delegates and organisers. Our chief focus remains on ensuring members who cannot relocate for personal or health reasons are provided ongoing financial support from operators. For those that do relocate, they must be provided additional payments for making this sacrifice.

Another area of concern has been ensuring casuals are not forgotten during this crisis. The Alliance has been focused on ensuring all employees, including contractors and casuals, are paid if they have to self-isolate and it’s been calling for operators to provide financial support to the employees of contractors who have been stood down. We’ve had some great successes but until these measures are universal, we will continue fighting.


Employer Updates:


By working with the Offshore Alliance, contractors to INPEX negotiated with INPEX management to reach agreement on an arrangement that will provide reduced but reasonable ongoing payments, expiring on April 16, to casual employees of contractors that have been stood down who have no leave or redundancy entitlements. As a result, many employees of contractors who are not currently being mobilised are being paid a reasonable level of income.

INPEX has now implemented a 5/4 roster, with the first 2 weeks of the 5 week on-swing being a paid quarantine period. The Alliance will be working with INPEX to ensure additional remuneration will be provided to those who work this new roster.


The largely consultative approach by INPEX stands in stark contrast to the approach of Woodside. After summarily standing down some a total 900 contractors without pay, Woodside management offered these contractors a roster that would have been catastrophically unsafe: 14 weeks away from home (including 12 on the platform) and ‘perhaps’ 4 weeks R&R. Woodside did not consult with the Alliance at all on this proposal.

After a public campaign led by the Alliance, Woodside pulled back and is now attempting to implement a 6/2 roster. The 6 week on-swing includes a 2-week quarantine period prior to the 4-week working period on the facility. Woodside is offering bonus payments for the working of this roster. This proposed 6/2 roster is still the cause of some concern and the Alliance will be raising these with Woodside directly.

There are many issues that the Alliance will be raising with Woodside, including payment to employees of contractors who have been stood down with pay.


The Alliance has been working very closely with Chevron which is seeking to move its 2/2/2/4 roster to a 4/4 roster. All employees who work the new roster will be provided an additional monthly allowance of $5000 plus over-cycle payments for the additional days worked in the new roster in comparison to the normal roster. Chevron will also provide accommodation for employees and their families who relocate to Western Australia.

The Alliance is now focusing on ensuring contractors will secure reasonable payment.

SHELL (Prelude FLNG)

Shell will be moving from a 3/4/3/5 roster to a 4/4 roster. The Alliance is still working through the details of payment for employees and contractors.

Shell experienced plant failure on the Prelude over 6 weeks ago, which caused a large number of contractors being demobilised. This was unrelated to COVID-19. Shell has continued to pay casual employees of contractors their full rates of pay since down-manning due to plant failure.

We are still in discussions with Shell about relocations and rostering issues.


Consultations at the beginning of the crisis began well and Jadestone was one of the first operators to implement flexible work arrangements for its employees, additional paid leave for self-isolation measures and some payments to employees of contractors.

But Jadestone has since issued varied employment contracts to employees without consulting the employees or the union which is a big concern and members are advised not to sign anything until Jadestone re-engages with the Alliance on any proposed alteration of the terms and conditions of members’ employment.

BHP/MODEC (Pyrenees Venture FPSO)

After a slow start, MODEC (the contractor operating the Pyrenees Venture) has reached agreement with the Alliance on new temporary arrangements. These arrangements are in some ways superior to many other operators and MODEC deserves recognition for this.

MODEC is moving from a 3/3/3/6 roster to a 5/4 roster for interstate crew, a 3/3 roster for operators who relocate to Western Australia and a 3/6 roster for local Western Australian crew.

If an employee is considered high-risk for reasons of health, MODEC will no longer mobilise that employee and continue to pay that employee 75% of their normal salary for this period.

If an employee cannot mobilise for other reasons (such as family caring arrangements), they will be entitled to their accrued leave, then paid 75% of their normal salary for 28 after exhausting their leave, and then 50% of their normal salary thereafter.

Employees in quarantine arrangements will be paid $500 per day. Employees who have relocated to Western Australia will be paid $250 per day during their off-swing. Overcycle will be paid at 250%.

BHP has yet to make commitments around contractor payments.


Esso is consulting with unions and union delegates in an attempt to introduce longer rosters on the gas platforms. They are seeking up to a 4/4. The current roster is 1/1. The oil platforms will have no changes to rosters. These discussions are ongoing.

This is an ever-changing environment and the AWU will continue to update you on everything that is being achieved on your behalf.

These important outcomes show that there has never been a more important time to join your union. 

Join the union today!

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