Maritime workers worried over abrupt contract end
MARITIME workers have hit out at Bechtel over the ending of a contract for tow and barge services on Gladstone Harbour.
The workers were employed by PB Sea Tow, which had a contract with Bechtel on the APLNG project.
The Maritime Union Australia said 28 workers were informed the contract had ended, effectively leaving them without jobs.
The union suspects Bechtel cancelled the PB Sea Tow contract in order to bring in a cheaper contractor.
However, Bechtel said the contract was coming to its planned conclusion and there was no plan to replace PB Sea Tow with another contractor.
PB Sea Tow declined to comment.
Details of the dispute are still unclear, as each side has a different story. The Observer understands the issue was being discussed late yesterday, but the outcome is unknown.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said the job losses were a bitter pill with Christmas approaching.
"These workers have just had the news from hell," Mr Bray said. "Only days from Christmas and they have been told their jobs are gone with almost no notice."
"There has been no clear explanation as to why Bechtel made this decision to terminate the contract and the uncertainty is exacerbated by the fact that Bechtel is refusing to say who the replacement sub-contractor will be.
"The workers understand that it is likely that another company with a highly concerning safety record will take the contract, leading to a race to the bottom in working conditions at Gladstone.
Bechtel says there is no plan to replace PB Sea Tow on the project, as the contract is completed. Bechtel Gladstone General Manager Kevin Berg said there was nothing unexpected, or untoward, about the contract's conclusion.
"All contracts, which are agreed to by the contractor involved, have a limited time span," Mr Berg said. "We are of the belief the unions and their members are aware of this, however Bechtel has no knowledge of the workforce structure of the company and how they manage their workload.
"The company is still continuing with its work on another contract with Bechtel and it's at their discretion as to how they deploy their employees to fulfill their various work agreements."