Workers at Woodside’s $12 billion Pluto gas site are fighting plans to take away stable on-site accommodation.
The dispute arose over plans to take away personal rooms for each worker at the site’s accommodation village and force them to move into a new room at the start of every shift on site—which the company calls “motelling”.
Workers are disgusted at plans to take away one of the few conveniences in a difficult work environment. One worker commented “It’s like living in a village; you get to know who your neighbours are. Now they just want us to roll up back on site not knowing where we’ll live from one shift visit to another.”
Workers at the Pluto site are often away from their homes and families for nine or ten months every year, and leave to spend time at home between shifts.
But there are wider concerns about worsening conditions on site.
“Most of us are spending 12 hours a day on the job and we’re only getting paid for ten,” another worker told the ABC.
“We’ve been losing conditions over the last couple of years due to John Howard’s Industrial Relation Laws and Kevin 07 doesn’t seem to be helping much so it’s just come to a head.”
What makes the dispute even more significant is all the workers on site are on individual contracts, which employers pushed in the Pilbara to deunionise the area. It follows the agreement of notorious union-busting company Rio Tinto that it would negotiate with construction union on an agreement for 250 train drivers in the Pilbara.
As the dispute escalated workers organised a picketline blocking the main entrance to the Pluto site that held up traffic for several kilometres along the highway.
The workers have defied threats of fines for over a week of strike action. But their employer, Woodside, is not backing down, with the Executive Vice President of the Pluto project announcing, “The introduction of motelling is non-negotiable.”
Further strikes look inevitable unless Woodside gives in. Workers at Pluto will have to defy Rudd’s unfair anti-strike laws to win. They will need to maintain their determination and keep up the strikes.

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