Unions vs Shell: WAR IS OVER!

After a two-year battle that culminated in 76 days of industrial action, members from the ETU and the Offshore Alliance finally voted up an agreement with Shell in September for an enterprise agreement (EA) on the Prelude FLNG facility.

This industrial action is the longest and most significant action ever undertaken on an offshore facility in Australian waters. 

The battle began in July 2020 when the combined unions lodged a Majority Support Petition with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to force Shell to come to the bargaining table and negotiate with their workers and representatives.

Shell used every legal avenue available to avoid negotiations but were ultimately forced to bargain with the unions. Since bargaining began in February 2021, after a mammoth 22 meetings over 18 months and 76 days of strike action, we have reached agreement.

At the start of negotiations the membership density across the unions was less than 50%. Now over 90% of the workers are union members.

The number one point of contention with Shell was a job security clause which prevents Shell from outsourcing core crew jobs. Their fierce opposition to having a job security clause in the EBA was the reason the dispute lasted so long.

Aside from the job security clause, members also won:

  • increased pay of $30k – $50k per annum (inclusive of offshore allowance)
  • income protection for two years to the value of 75% of salary
  • over cycle payment increased from X1.3 to X1.5
  • fixed roster cycles that can only be changed by agreement between employees and the company
  • clearly defined classifications and career progression matrix
  • a dispute settlement procedure clause that includes FWC provision
  • increased travel allowance and training provisions
  • redundancy provision of 16 weeks plus three weeks per year of service
  • payment of salary if subjected to mobilisation delays
  • improvements to personal leave and compassionate leave.

Shell workers took on a giant with a fierce ideological opposition to collective bargaining – a multi-national company with deep pockets that is used to dictating terms and having things their way – AND THEY WON!

The crew never faltered and have finally won an industry standard EBA to be proud of. They are a credit to themselves, to their industry and to the union movement.

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This article was publised on 29 September 2022.