Bechtel rejects claims of discrimination in workforce

BECHTEL has long been held to account for the people it hires to help construct the three liquefied natural gas facilities on Curtis Island.

As the numbers being let go begins to take over the numbers being hired, workers are asking why it seems to be the fly-in fly-out workers and 457 visa holders that stay on the island.

But Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg has rejected the suggestion the company is discriminatory in its approach to redundancies.

Five thousand locals are still part of the 13,600 strong team, with just 18 tradespeople on 457 visas.

Mr Berg said the recruitment program had always been to employ locally first, then regionally, then nationally across the wide range of skill sets required.

"It's critical we have employees with the right skill sets to perform the work we have remaining," he said.

"That means individuals need to be high performing and have the capability and credentials required to perform very specific work activities."

Mr Berg said there had been more than 10,000 redundancies on projects as Bechtel had gone through the different phases of construction.

"You simply can't replace an electrician with a plumber, or a crane operator with a carpenter," he said.

"Nor can you replace experienced tradespeople with inexperienced labour and vice versa."

He said the 18 tradespeople on 457 visas were specific welders and fitters hired from the United Kingdom, along with 65 others.

"(It was) at a time we could not find the numbers we needed in Australia, despite extensive advertising and searching," he said.

"Employing these workers was and remains a tremendous expense; however it is important to understand that once employed, they are protected by the same employment laws as all people who can work legally in Australia, including the laws that govern redundancies."

Mr Berg said all employees were employed under Australian conditions and they all were protected by Australian law.

WORKERS

  • 13,600 overall
  • 5000 locals
  • 8600 FIFOs
  • 18 on 457 visas
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