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Chevron's Gorgon gas extraction meet with labour unions' opposition, Australia

Labour unions across Australia, New Zealand and US join hands to oppose Chevron's unfair treatment of workers and lack of safety in one of the biggest gas extraction stations in the world


Chevron is deeply involved with natural gas projects in both Australia and New Zealand. Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members say they’ve been treated unfairly at Chevron’s massive Gorgon project, located off the country’s northwest shore. Chevron intends to collect gas from offshore wells then liquefy the product on Barrow’s Island for export using giant LNG tankers. The effort was first estimated to cost $37 billion but exploded to $54 billion because of cost overruns.  In May 2015, docker union leaders from around the world met in Perth, Australia for a strategy meeting that included a protest against Chevron for failing to respect workers’ rights in Western Australia. Autralian and New Zealand's trade unions joint in a protest (called by the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)) to alert the New Zealand public to the poor practices of Chevron, that have led to major disputes in the Australian offshore oil and gas industry and around the world. According to the trade unions, instead of cooperating with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Chevron has refused to respect longstanding union contract standards and filed a $20 million lawsuit against MUA members over a health and safety dispute. The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) presented a letter to New Zealand consulate officials to explain workers' concerns about Chevron.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Chevron's Gorgon gas extraction meet with labour unions' opposition, Australia
State or province:Western Australia
Location of conflict:Barrow Island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Gorgon Project is one of the world's largest natural gas projects, with a total production capacity of about 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 20,000 barrels of condensate per day (according to Chevron [2]

Level of Investment for the conflictive project54,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Trade Unions like Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Trade unions
Maori workers
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsUnfair treatment of migrant labour
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Transnational solidarity actions among trade unions
Proposal and development of alternatives:Labour rights to be granted, collective agreements
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Australia has gone full swing into expansion of the gas sector, which is dominated by large energy multinationals and locked in free trade agreements. Changing this pattern of the energy model is becoming tougher, and it's quite unlikely that under this model labour rights will be respected.
Sources & Materials

[1] ILWU leaders join protest in Perth against Chevron projects
[click to view]

[2] - Gorgon project
[click to view]

[3] Autralianmining. com. au - Thousands of angry workers march on Chevron
[click to view]

[4] UPI, Chevron starts mega-LNG project in Australia, March 2016
[click to view]

[5] Pipeliner - Prime Minister states the case for gas, April 2016
[click to view]

Maori Television - Protestors against Chevron take concerns to NZ consulate in Perth, Wednesday 13 May 2015
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Protestors against Chevron take concerns to NZ consulate in Perth (in Maori)
[click to view]

International Transport Workers Federation - Chevron Protest, by Maritime Union of Australia
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Daniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2281
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