The dispute between Chevron and employees working at two of the company’s liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities in Australia will be heard by an industrial relations tribunal after workers began striking September 8.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) will hold a single hearing at the office of its president, Adam Hatcher, September 22 even though the unions representing Chevron workers said they wanted the meeting to take place in November.
According to Reuters, Chevron is hoping that the FWC, an Australian industrial relations tribunal created in 2009, will force workers to cancel the strike and make a deal with the company after the business said it no longer expects contract talks to yield meaningful results earlier in September.
"The act requires the commission to act as soon as practical, so timeframes are quite tight," said Hatcher’s office.
Chevron pursued legal actions with the FWC after contract negotiations between the company and unions representing workers at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects broke down September 8. Previously, Chevron had been negotiating with workers alongside Woodside Energy over improved benefits like higher wages and better working conditions. However, hundreds of workers at the facilities began holding short strikes with two weeks of 24-hour strikes scheduled to start after September 7 following the breakdown of contract talks.
Saul Kavonic, an energy analyst for Credit Suisse, said the fast-approaching hearing could cause the unions to strike more aggressively. "It could be protracted, and in the meantime, the unions may feel the need to strike more strongly heading into the arbitration process," he added.
A spokesperson for Western Australia said that it is closely monitoring the situation but has no plans to intervene in the legal process.
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