The MUA is negotiating with the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), which is the industry group representing the 22 employers. AMMA is making comments designed to build media, community and political support for the interests of its members.
Specifically, it has been trying to convince people that the wages of MUA members are a threat to the financial viability of projects and, hence, the national interest.
Research undertaken by BIS Shrapnel (download here) shows the AMMA claims are untrue.
Key findings included:
- the integrated rating wage cost for the $52 billion Gorgon project is approximately 0.25% of the total project cost, meaning wage growth is unlikely to present any material threat to viability;
- between 2007 and 2012, companies engaged in the sector enjoyed revenue growth of over 200 per cent, according to their annual reports and official financial statements, with EBITDA averaging 13.2 per cent compound annual growth rate;
- during the same period, wages grew by just 32 per cent; and
- the competitive gap between Australian-sourced LNG projects and international competitors will be essentially eliminated over the next five years, as the Australian dollar is predicted to drop to approximately $US0.80.
The reality is, offshore employers could afford to provide MUA workers with better wages and conditions, and this would not have any material negative impact on the financial viability of projects, or the national interest.
The MUA is campaigning for wages and conditions outcomes that are in the national interest.
We are seeking a 6 per cent per annum pay rise over the life of the agreement. The big oil and gas companies want to use floating oil and gas technology, instead of building their projects onshore. This will mean fewer jobs onshore and diminished economic benefits. It is in the national interest for our workers to be paid well, so they can spread the benefits of these projects through the rest of the economy.
Our members also deserve to be paid well. They are away from their families for weeks at a time and work in isolated and dangerous environments. They work hard, long hours, and this needs to be recognised.