The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has questioned why one of the joint venture companies building Chevron’s $54 billion LNG project is trying to bring in 30 foreign welders, despite the large pool of qualified Australian employees.
According to report from The Australian, Chicago, Bridge and Iron (CB&I) — half of the CKJV joint venture building Gorgon on Barrow Island — has told the Union it intended to employ foreign welders to work on the project after failing to source workers locally.
Steve McCartney, South Australian Secretary at AMWU, said the Union has launched a campaign on its Facebook page and has received 30 applications from suitably qualified candidates within 30 minutes.
“CB&I said they had 25 people looking for 30 Australian workers for six months,” he said.
“They can’t have been looking that hard, because we found them in 30 minutes. Not only were they available, but they were fully qualified and experienced in the oil and gas industry. Either CB&I have the most incompetent human resources team in Australia, or they weren’t really trying to fill these positions with local workers at all.”
The Union has urged WA Premier Colin Barnett to intervene if foreign labour is hired for the Gorgon project.
“We believe that he should be there saying how is Chevron [which operates the project], what is Chevron doing to maximise Australian input on these projects,” Mr McCartney said.
“We missed out on the fabrication, at least we want to have the guys from Australia working on the project. He said the recruitment pointed to a wider issue within the resources sector, of a desire by industry for a “cheaper and more compliant” workforce.”
According to the ABC, WA Commerce Minister Michael Mischin has defended the company’s decision, saying the local labour market was not always able to meet the demands of a construction project of Gorgon’s magnitude.
“The construction of the project has reached a point where the number of suitably qualified Special Class Welders available in Australia does not currently meet the project’s labour requirements,” he said.
The Minister has further pointed out that the Gorgon Project had spent more than $24 billion on Australian goods and services, and created more than 10,000 jobs nationally.