TAKING A STAND: Unions rallied in Gladstone last week, demanding more industry investment in the community.
TAKING A STAND: Unions rallied in Gladstone last week, demanding more industry investment in the community. Brenda Strong GLARALL

Tribunal recommends Bechtel meet with unions for talks

A DISPUTE over "excessive" travel times has forced unions representing Curtis Island workers to take their grievances to the Fair Work Commission.

But the workplace relations tribunal yesterday recommended that Bechtel meet with the unions for talks.

Phil Golby, representing the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said workers were desperate to resolve issues around excessive travel times and public holiday payments.

"We told Bechtel we'd cleared our diaries, we were prepared to meet all day Friday," Mr Golby said.

"They have come back to us with a time of two o'clock in the afternoon - it just shows you how fair dinkum they are.

"We want to make Friday a day where we can get resolutions, and we have told the company that we need to pencil in eight hours."

Workers are currently compensated more than $70 a day for travel to and from Curtis Island.

But Mr Golby said travel times had blown out for many workers as the project had grown.

He also claimed the company was requiring a doctor's certificate when fly-in, fly-out workers didn't work Saturday.

"We're saying it's not mandatory to work Saturdays. So why should they have a certificate?" he said.

He also highlighted up-skilling, safety management, leave, insufficient apprentice programs, and bad weather requirements as points of dispute.

Bechtel Gladstone General Manager Kevin Berg said Bechtel had agreed in the hearing that representatives would meet with the three local union organisers on Friday for further "fact finding" discussions.

He said meetings with senior union officials were starting on Monday.

"We are continuously working in partnership with representatives from our signatory unions to ensure the lines of communication are open and issues can be resolved efficiently and effectively," Mr Berg said.

The talks follow a CFMEU demonstration last week, which targeted the construction company over use of 457 visa workers.



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