News

VIDEO: LNG strike action moves into second day

STRIKING Curtis Island protesters changed their tack on Friday morning, with around 50 CFMEU members peacefully standing by the side of the road at Port Central in Gladstone, waving flags and yelling at the passing cars.

The move follows a morning of chaos on Thursday when picketing workers blocked traffic, causing delays across town.

"Vote no" was the message to fellow workers, with numbers growing as workers who were in support pulling over in their vehicles to join the protest.

>> Picket leaves workers stuck on buses for hours

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>> Bechtel responds to picket action by CFMEU

About 10 police officers were on hand to ensure the peace was being kept, and said protesters at the Port Central and Fisherman's Landing sites were protesting within the law.

On Thursday, in scenes reminiscent of a Thatcher-era uprising, two people were arrested and at least 100 more vocal union members disrupted the morning commute for thousands of workers when they set up a picket line at Port Central.

The industrial action was described as the beginning of an "indefinite" strike.

Last night, a tent had been pitched at Port Central but most protesters had gone home, while those at the APLNG wharf were camped around a fire.

The union denied public claims that rocks were thrown, abuse yelled, members turned up with alcohol, cars were spat at and a person was pushed off his motorbike.

Gladstone police arrested two people for wilful damage and contravening police orders, and many more were given orders to move on.

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said many workers had reported to work as normal, "despite the unsafe and illegal actions of a few".

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Protests were also held at the Fisherman's Landing APLNG terminal where union members were more peaceful, but buses were backed up for hours.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members stood in solidarity as they took part in protected industrial action to fight for more time with their families.

Workers said better conditions of a shorter roster were worth fighting for. 

Traffic was banked-up along Port Access Rd in Gladstone early Thursday.
Traffic was banked-up along Port Access Rd in Gladstone early Thursday. ROB KIDD CC MARA PATTISON-SOWDEN

CFMEU organiser Mick Robinson said the industry had the highest rate of suicide in Australia, which came from the fly-in, fly-out conditions of the workforce.

"These rosters aren't family friendly. The last week is a killer," he said. "There's statistics showing the fourth week of the roster is the worst."

Mr Robinson said members were taking protected action because Bechtel wasn't listening to pleas to bring in industry-standard three week on/one week off rosters.

"Workers have a right to show their disagreement," he said.

 "The fact is they've put their document out twice and it's been voted down twice," he said.

"They are using scaremongering tactics - intimidating, bullying and threatening jobs."

Although Bechtel came back and changed the agreement terms, Mr Robinson said they were an insult to workers.

"They put the changes in the last six months of the three years when it will affect the smallest minority."

Gladstone police Inspector Darren Sommerville said protesters on Thursday had attempted to disrupt traffic and people who attempted to get to work.

"Two people were arrested, one for wilful damage where a bus window was smashed, and the other contravened police direction when he failed to get off the road," the inspector said.

Bechtel's Gladstone manager Kevin Berg on Thursday said the company had been appalled at the behaviour by picketing workers, alleging protesters had turned up drunk.

"We're outraged that the CFMEU, which says safety is a priority, would behave like this," Mr Berg said.

"We believe everyone has the right to have their say. However, the CFMEU's actions today are completely unacceptable and illegal."

Mr Berg said Bechtel wanted to thank the "vast majority of our 13,000 employees for their patience and tolerance".

Topics:  cfmeu curtis island gas lng unions



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