ALMOST 150 disgruntled pipeline workers will be bussed into Gladstone on Friday morning, following a mass lay-off - less than a week before Christmas.
Although Santos GLNG says it is a normal part of the process as a project nears completion, worried workers from along the pipeline including Biloela, Moura, Roma and Emerald have raised questions over the method of redundancy.
Several workers spoke to The Observer on Thursday, saying they were told by contractors Saipem that they still had two months left on their part of the pipeline project.
They received an email saying they would fly out for Christmas on December 22 and return to work on January 5.
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However, they discovered they were leaving early through Qantas, who had booked the workers on flights out, and severance pay had already been banked into their accounts.
This is before they've been told of the redundancies - expected to happen at a meeting on-site at 5.30am this morning and they're bussed to Gladstone and flown out.
We know it's a contract job but they're sacking Aussies for those on 457 visas.
But Santos GLNG said the lay-offs were in line with the project plan, where approximately 150 employees of the pipeline contractor would be "demobilised" this week.
Pipeline start-up and operation is just around the corner now that the bulk of construction for Santos GLNG's 420km pipeline is either finished or nearing completion.
One worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, said his flights to return home had been cancelled, which he only found out through Qantas.
"We know it's a contract job but they're sacking Aussies for those on 457 visas," he said.
Another worker said he was shocked to have to go home to his family with no job at Christmas time.
"We've still got two months left to finish in this spot.
"They told us that we would stay until it finished... now they've given us the boot.
"There's already pays going into people's banks, severance paid out before even told we've lost our job."
A Santos GLNG spokesperson told The Observer the pipeline project was nearing completion, and pipeline workforce numbers would continue to be drawn down in stages as planned.
"More than 1100 people are still working on the pipeline project," he said.
"In line with the project plan, approximately 150 employees of the pipeline contractor will be demobilised this week."
Santos refused to comment on the rumours of 457 visa workers taking over the remaining works.