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
NameChevron's Gorgon gas extraction meet with labour unions' opposition, Australia
ProvinceWestern Australia
SiteBarrow 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 CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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 (in USD)54,000,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Company Names or State Enterprises from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTrade Unions like Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Trade unions
Maori workers
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherUnfair treatment of migrant labour
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseTransnational solidarity actions among trade unions
Development of AlternativesLabour rights to be granted, collective agreements
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

[3] Autralianmining. com. au - Thousands of angry workers march on Chevron
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Maori Television - Protestors against Chevron take concerns to NZ consulate in Perth, Wednesday 13 May 2015
[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]

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

[2] - Gorgon project
[click to view]

Media Links

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

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

Other Documents

ILWU protest, May 12 in Perth ILWU International President Robert McEllrath joined a protest against Chevron on May 12 in Perth, Australia.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorDaniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB
Last update15/03/2018