Australian Workers' Union National Secretary Bill Shorten said that the back-down by the employers is a significant victory for the oilrig workers and an embarrassing back-flip for Esso who had declared that the lock-out would have no effect on the supply of gas and that the workers were not needed to repair the equipment damaged on last week.
"We have seen yet another example of Esso's clownish behavior where they lock-out essential workers to force family un-friendly employment conditions on their workers and declare that their industrial action will have no affect on the supply of gas to Victoria's businesses and households then just two days later backfliped, lifted the lock-out and hurry the workers back to work to ensure gas is supplied." Mr. Shorten said.
Esso's subcontractors Kellogg, Brown & Root, Corpe Instrument Engineering and Worley ABB, had served lock-out notices on the AWU, ETU & AMWU in an attempt to force the 300 workers to accept a new 14-days-on, 14-days-off roster. For the last 25 years the workers have worked a 7-days-on, 7-days-off roster.
"The workers are pleased the lock-out has been lifted but they definitely aren't taking the actions of the employers as a sign of good faith." Mr. Shorten said.
"We expect that once the equipment at Longford is fixed that Esso will resume their game of chicken with Victoria's gas supplies by once again taking industrial action against the employees of their subcontractors."
Families of the workers will continue their campaign against the proposed changes which will include a school holidays family rally to be addressed by Sharan Burrowns and the leaders of the three unions.
The AWU has also launched a special campaign website where concerned members of the community can email Esso management to express their dissatisfaction with Esso as well as keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the campaign. The documentary "Blood is thicker than oil" which the AWU produced in conjunction with film makers Melinda Jamison & Nerida Lawton to give families of the oilrig workers an opportunity to voice their concerns and to raise awareness of the dispute in the wider community can also be viewed on the website at www.awu.net.au.
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