PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) has lashed out at oil and gas major Woodside, claiming that it had stood down 500 of its workers both at the Karratha gas plant and at the Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project “without a word of explanation or a dollar of compensation”.
The AWU said that the latest round of staff cuts followed on from 400 staff cuts made at the end of last week.
“Woodside’s approach to the Covid-19 crisis is in contrast to major competitors like Shell and Jadestone, both of which have consulted with employees and their unions to minimise the impact of Covid-19 measures and provided additional flexibility and special payments,” the union body said on Tuesday.
“Everyone understands changes have to be made and pain has to be shared. But Woodside’s treatment of its workers is brutal, cold, and unnecessary,” said spokesperson for the Offshore Alliance and AWU national secretary Daniel Walton.
“The nation of Australia has been spectacularly good to Woodside over recent years, you’d think it’s now time for Woodside to return just a little of the favour. Summarily sending hundreds of workers back to the airport without a word of explanation is just a woeful abdication of responsibility during this pandemic crisis.
“Australia desperately needs workers like these to retain some optimism if our economy is to avoid a depression. Woodside is being an appalling corporate citizen by refusing to lift a finger to help.”
A spokesperson for Woodside told the Australian Financial Review that the job cuts were needed to comply with health and government guidance on Covid-19.
"In order to continue safe and reliable production at Karratha gas plant while minimising Covid-19 risks, we have informed our workforce at site of plans to reduce or defer non-essential maintenance and refurbishment works.
"This is a difficult decision to take but these are highly unforeseen circumstances. Business as usual is not an option, and we need to take extraordinary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
The job cuts followed after fellow oil and gas producers Santos and Oil Search announced major cuts in their own capital expenditure for 2020, with Santos announcing the deferral of an investment decision on its Barossa project and on the its Papua New Guinea LNG expansion project.
Woodside could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.