White-col­lar pain felt at Wheat­stone

Pilbara News - - News - Peter Klinger and Peter Wil­liams

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.

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