|Subject: MUA: East Timor President welcomes
union initiative on oil & gas
East Timor President welcomes union initiative on oil & gas
Australian, Timorese unions in joint campaign for jobs
18 January 2006
By MUA news -
East Timor President Xanana Gusmao has voiced support for an initiative by Australian and Timorese unions to get more jobs for Timorese workers in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Addressing an international transport unions conference in the East Timorese capital Dili, President Gusmao called for the urgent establishment of a labour code covering the industry.
'Timorese participation and employment in all levels and phases of activities in this area must be encouraged and supported,' he said.
'It is with this in mind that I welcome the presence of the unions and appreciate the initiative to hold this type of seminar.'
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is campaigning with Timorese unions to persuade the US oil and gas company ConocoPhillips to employ Timorese and Australian workers in its oil and gas operations including seafarers on LNG tankers.
ConocoPhillips pipes the LNG from its Bayan-Undan field in the Timor Sea to Darwin for liquefaction and shipment.
MUA Assistant National Secretary, Mick Doleman said ConocoPhillips is using flag of convenience vessels to avoid decent labour standards and exclude Timorese and Australian seafarers from the LNG trade.
Speaking from Dili, Mr Doleman criticised ConocoPhillips' refusal to meet with unions.
'Half the East Timor workforce is unemployed or underemployed, but ConocoPhillips won't give Timorese job opportunities in the only industry that can provide them,' he said.
Speaking at the Dili conference, President Gusmao called for unions and employers to work 'hand in hand together' to address employment issues in the shipping of LNG and at the Bayan-Undan field.
President Gusmao said the recent union protest against ConocoPhillips in Darwin, and similar protests by Timorese workers at the Bayan-Undan field could be resolved if all parties worked together.
The first ConocoPhillips shipment of Timor Sea gas to Japan was scheduled to leave Darwin on the Pacific Notus tanker last week. The vessel was forced to leave Darwin empty because of equipment problems at the Wickham Point plant.
'This incident has undermined Australia's reputation in LNG, largely built on the Northwest Shelf project, ' Mr Doleman said. 'The Northwest Shelf project - unlike the ConocoPhillips project - has relied heavily on consultation between all stakeholders including government, project investors, contractors and unions, and resulted in world-class stability and gurantee of delivery.'
The Dili conference resolved today to work for the setting up of Timorese and Australian task forces covering the Timor Sea oil and gas industry and including governments, employers and unions.
Mr Doleman said increased employment for Timorese and Australian seafarers would be a major objective of the task forces.
Contact: Mick Doleman in Dili - Mobile: 0418 391 528
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