Australian Offshore Unions Crack Down on Safety

Concerns that workers on individual contracts in the offshore industry are being intimidated into accepting unsafe work practices will be addressed by a joint offshore union alliance at a meeting hosted by the Western Australian Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia in Fremantle tomorrow.

"We've had workers from rigs and floaters approach our organizers over safety concerns," said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

"They are afraid to put their hands up and they are afraid to take a stand because intimidation is a real issue with workers on AWAs. They are afraid of losing their jobs."

Mr. Crumlin said this also had serious environmental implications for coastal communities.

The Maritime Union of Australia and The Australian Workers' Union have formed a hydrocarbons alliance to work co-operatively to address safety concerns.

"Safe workplaces are our priority, and we are working together to help make that happen," said Bill Shorten, National Secretary of the AWU.

During a one week blitz in May officials from both unions made contact with more than 200 workers through phone polling and swoops on the airport and helicopter pads to catch people on their way to and from the rigs.

Several people, predominantly from rigs and floaters, came forward saying they were forced to compromise safety but were too scared to speak out.

Mr. Crumlin and Mr. Shorten will be speaking at tomorrow's conference, open to all oil and gas industry workers.