White-collar pain felt at Wheatstone
As many as 200 white-collar jobs were axed at the Chevron-run $40.4 billion Wheatstone LNG development near Onslow lastweek as part of corporate belt-tightening that was exacerbated by collapsing oil and gas prices.
It has sparked complaints from some of the sacked workers that local staff are being targeted ahead of expatriate workers.
Neither Chevron nor Wheatstone’s lead contractor Bechtel would confirm the quantum of the job cuts.
But it is claimed as many as 50 of Chevron’s 120-strong Wheatstone project team and up to 150 of Bechtel’s 650-strong on-site workforce were told to finish up by late next month.
It was flagged six weeks ago that Chevron was accelerating efforts to reduce its Australian cost base and wanted to curb worker numbers among its project owner’s teams before the end of this year.
Most of the affected Chevron workers are understood to have been locally subcontracted to the US giant. Chevron last week dismissed claims it was targeting local workers ahead of expats.
“As a leading local employer, our preference is to always hire Australians first,” a spokeswoman said.
“Having a ready-made local workforce is good for the economy and helps our business plan efficiently.”
Chevron described the latest round of cuts as a step up in efforts to “reduce costs and to align work activities with achieving first LNG at (its other LNG project) Gorgon and Wheatstone”.
Bechtel said the composition of its Wheatstone support team was being adjusted as the project moved towards peak construction.
The US engineering company declined to provide details of the job losses.
Earlier this month it confirmed a review of workforce requirements was under way.
One source said that after reviewing its WA operations, Bechtel had cut its 900-strong workforce in the State by about 10 per cent.
Before making the cuts, Bechtel had about 650 people based at Wheatstone and 250 in Perth.
However, another source said the Wheatstone cuts were approaching 150.