The National Interest

Farstad stoppage focused on family-friendly FIFO rosters

Thursday 06 Nov 2014

The WA Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has given marine contractor Farstad ten days notice of four consecutive 24-hour stoppages, to commence 4am Saturday 15th November.

The action was sanctioned by the Fair Work Commission, following almost unanimous support in a secret ballot of members conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Farstad is one of 22 companies servicing the offshore oil and gas industry, including the Wheatstone project.

The stoppage will affect almost 300 workers across 25 vessels, with occupations including cooks, stewards and seafarers.

The MUA has been in EBA negotiations with Farstad and the industry body, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), for over 18 months.

The previous EBA expired in June 2013, and MUA members received their last pay increase in July 2012.

In an attempt to reach agreement, the MUA has advised Farstad that it is willing to accept a pay increase of 13.5 per cent over four years.

MUA WA Branch Assistant Secretary Will Tracey said the major sticking point was the union's demand for more family friendly rosters.

"Maritime workers at Farstad are currently away from home for five weeks at a time, putting severe pressure on their families and their own mental health," Mr Tracey said.

"Tragically, over the last 18 months, we have had at least four suicides in the offshore industry, and our union is determined to do something about it.

"Farstad and AMMA refuse to change the current roster from five-weeks on, five off, to the more family-friendly industry standard of four-weeks on, four off.

"While we have been happy to negotiate over wages, the mental health of our members is not something we are willing to negotiate over."

Mr Tracey said the union remained committed to ensuring Farstad used fully qualified and trained local crews, with higher rates of permanency.

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