Chevron workers at LNG plants in Australia to strike as dispute escalates

Industrial action at Gorgon and Wheatstone projects in Western Australia has raised fears for global gas supplies.

Gorgon project Australia
Australia's Gorgon and Wheatstone facilities account for about 7 percent of LNG supplies [File: AP via Business Wire]

Chevron workers at two major liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Australia have announced plans to strike for two weeks amid an escalating dispute over pay and conditions.

Workers at the Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects in Western Australia will begin a total strike from September 14, the Offshore Alliance union said on Tuesday.

“In response to Chevron’s duplicitous claim that our EBA negotiations are ‘intractable’, the Offshore Alliance is escalating Protected Industrial Action to demonstrate that our bargaining negotiations are far from ‘intractable’,” the Offshore Alliance said on its Facebook page.

“Offshore Alliance members are yet to exercise their lawful workplace rights to take Protected Industrial Action and our bargaining claims will look more and more reasonable as Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG exports dry up.”

The announcement marks an escalation in the longstanding dispute over pay and conditions after the Offshore Alliance last month said it would begin rolling stoppages, bans and limitations from September 7.

The Fair Work Commission, Australia’s workplace tribunal, is mediating talks between the sides.

Australia is one of the world’s largest LNG exporters, with the Gorgon and Wheatstone facilities together accounting for about 7 percent of global supply.

The prospect of protracted industrial action has raised fears of disruption to LNG exports, prompting wild price swings in energy markets in recent weeks.

While Europe has replenished its gas reserves to more than 90 percent of capacity since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a significant reduction in Australia’s production could put a strain on future supplies.

In its statement on Tuesday, the Offshore Alliance said Chevron would ultimately agree to its demand but not before losing billions of dollars.

“Which is ok as Chevron clearly have plenty of loose change in the Chevron piggy bank,” the union said.

Source: Al Jazeera