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LNG workers win shorter roster, but strike still on

WORKERS have won key changes to their Curtis Island agreements including shorter work rosters, despite one union announcing their members will strike this Thursday.

Up to 148 Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members could cause pain for about 11,000 workers across the three LNG projects with intended protected industrial action.

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Members of three other unions are participating in protected action ballots that close on August 19, but Bechtel has convinced its employees to take the new industrial agreement to a third vote before then.

It has included two key changes: bringing forward a productivity payment to November, which was originally to begin in May 2015, and changing the agreement from a four-year to three-year agreement with a three week on, one week off roster in the second half of the third year.

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BG Group, whose Queensland Curtis LNG project will be first off the rank, said despite the strike action there remained no change to the current expected first LNG date in the final quarter of 2014.

The new agreement has been negotiated for 10 months now after the original agreement was signed in 2009, and needs a 50% plus one vote of 8000 eligible employees to get up.

The original agreement expired on June 5 but will remain until it is replaced or removed.

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said the third vote had two key changes from workforce feedback, including changing the rostering in the third half of the third year.

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"We understand the key issue is moving towards a three and one roster," he said.

"We are willing to go in that direction but not at this stage in the projects. To make that shift would be a huge impact on the number of people needed to maintain the workforce."

He said Bechtel would be looking to minimise any disruption from any protected industrial action that might occur.

The CFMEU couldn't be contacted before deadline, but divisional branch secretary Jade Ingham has previously said the workers were concerned about lifestyle conditions such as the rotation rosters, rather than pay.

Bechtel is able to lock out any workers or sections of people unable to continue their work due to the action on Thursday.

If the new agreement is voted up it will be back paid from May 1. The vote will be conducted between August 12 and 14.

Topics:  bechtel, cfmeu, curtis island, lng



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