Huge gas plant sackings in Darwin

 JOBS SHOCK: The Ichthys LNG project is valued at $48.9 billion. Picture: Fairfax Ltd.

JOBS SHOCK: The Ichthys LNG project is valued at $48.9 billion. Picture: Fairfax Ltd.

UNIONS have this morning slammed the sacking of at least 640 workers employed on the Northern Territory’s biggest project.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union said the companies involved in the Ichthys project venture were behind Laing O’Rourke’s sacking of 640 workers.

This morning the union was notified that 640 workers have been given notice of termination as Laing O’Rourke took the decision to demobilise the site.

The decision comes on top of earlier contractual disputes involving UGL Kentz.

Construction giant Laing O'Rourke has pulled 800 contractors off the Ichthys LNG project in Darwin over a dispute with its joint venture partner, Japanese group Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the Australian Financial Review has reported.

The two companies have been constructing four cryogenic LNG tanks on the $48.9 billion project.

Meetings held in Japan in recent weeks have failed to resolve the issue and Laing O'Rourke has now taken action. 

JKC, a consortium of Japanese engineering groups JGC and Chiyoda and US engineering group KBR which is managing the construction of the onshore facilities for the Ichthys project, said that it expects the dispute between Laing O'Rourke and Kawasaki will be resolved and works will continue. 

The Ichthys project, owned by Japanese giant Inpex Corporation, is Japan's largest overseas investment. But it has been beset by cost overruns and delays.

AMWU Northern Territory secretary, Rohan Webb said the axing of hundreds of working people was a disgrace to the industry and the companies involved.

“Shoddy management practices, big business greed and an utter disregard for the lives of hundreds of employees have led us to this dark day,” Mr Webb said.

“While big companies involved in the Ichthys project have been squabbling over messy contractual disputes, it’s the workers who have paid the price and are suffering.

“Today there are 640 families who have been left with no security for their future and are wondering how they are going to put food on the table or pay the mortgage.

“Our union will be in contact with all members to provide support to the families affected by this mess and to ensure that all entitlements are paid correctly.

Local Territory AMWU organiser, Lloyd Pumpa said that the mood amongst employees was one of disbelief, shock and anger.

“Ichthys workers and the whole community are absolutely devastated by this callous decision. This won’t just affect the workers, it will affect families, the community and local businesses in our area.

“We will make sure that every member has access to our free 24 hour counselling service during this difficult time.”

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