Australia Tribunal to Rule on Chevron LNG Strikes after Talks Fail

 The Wheatstone offshore processing platform is one of Australia’s largest. - Credit: Chevron
The Wheatstone offshore processing platform is one of Australia’s largest. - Credit: Chevron

Fresh talks between Chevron and unions over strikes at two liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Western Australia ended on Wednesday without a deal, a Chevron spokesperson said, leaving it up to a workplace tribunal to map a way forward.

Chevron Australia said that despite "meaningful negotiations" this week, unions at the Wheatstone and Gorgon facilities, which export about 7% of global LNG supply, continued to ask for terms well above industry standards.

The tribunal, the Fair Work Commission, will meet on Friday to review the dispute.

"The ongoing lack of agreement reinforces our view that there is no reasonable prospect of agreement between the parties," the Chevron spokesperson said.

Chevron asked the Fair Work Commission to intervene after an earlier round of talks with the Offshore Alliance, a coalition of two unions, broke down several weeks ago. 

The tribunal, which only has one day of hearings scheduled, will decide whether to intervene and halt the strikes which began on Sept. 8 and escalated to two 24-hour work stoppages over the weekend.

A decision is likely to be swift, as early as the same day or the following week.

A union representative involved in the talks said Chevron was "putting all their hopes" on a favorable decision from the tribunal. The representative declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Strikes continued at Wheatstone and Gorgon, although in shorter blocks than the full strikes over the weekend, the representative added, without providing further details.

Chevron has previously said it would not comment on the strikes and that its focus was on maintaining safe and reliable operations in the event of disruption.

The Commission hosted mediated talks between Chevron and unions this week ahead of the hearing in the hope of hammering out a deal over pay and conditions.

Offshore Alliance spokesperson Brad Gandy said both sides made concessions during the talks but Chevron's offer remained below industry standards.

"Offshore Alliance members remain open to compromise, but Chevron must table an offer that doesn't have Chevron providing lesser terms and conditions of employment to its employees when compared to other employers in the sector," Gandy said in a statement.

Woodside Energy and the Offshore Alliance reached a deal in August for the nearby North West Shelf LNG facility after workers had threatened to strike.

(Reuters - Reporting by Lewis Jackson in Sydney and Deep Vakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Miral Fahmy)

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