A NUMBER of vessel operators in Australia’s offshore resource industry have secured their employees’ support for new enterprise agreements (EAs), providing a positive indicator that moderate and sustainable outcomes for wages and conditions can be adopted across the industry.

Vessel operators reached four agreements with their engineers and officers last week.

“The agreement reached between these vessel operators and their employees is a very positive development in what has been a long and protracted bargaining dispute,” says AMMA executive director, policy and public affairs, Scott Barklamb.

“This demonstrates that Australia’s maritime employees understand and appreciate the difficult conditions facing the offshore resource industry, and that the best way to support job security while also secure a pay rise, is to work with their employers towards a sustainable outcome.”

The agreements supported by maritime employees include a modest pay increase, in line with industry relativities. Allowances will be retained at current rates aside from the removal of a construction allowance which acts as a disincentive to future projects.

AMMA has been representing around 20 vessel operators in industry-wide enterprise bargaining negotiations since 2013 when the previous industry agreements expired. The previous agreements provided pay rises of around 30% over the preceding four years, reflecting unparalleled outcomes that had become unsustainable and were threatening jobs in Australia.

The three years of bargaining have seen multiple strike attempts by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers (AIMPE) as the unions pursued ambit claims that far exceed community standards and fail to reflect changing market conditions.

Importantly, the employees who recently supported their proposed agreements have indicated they did so to improve their own job security and support Australian projects.

“This is a great sector to work in and employees have recognised that their support will be critical to the ongoing sustainability of the Australian offshore maritime resource sector,” Mr Barklamb says.