The Oilworker: June 2019


ESSO/UGL Dispute in Australia Continues Past 700 Days

Australian trade unionists marked 700 days on the picket line on May 20, 2019, in their dispute with ExxonMobil, its Australian subsidiary Esso Australia Pty Ltd (Esso), and Esso contractor UGL/CIMIC.

The trade unionists are members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU). They worked as contractors at Esso’s Longford gas plant and its offshore oil and gas platform.

“By use of a sham collective agreement signed by just five people 2,200 miles (3,500 km) away, Exxon Mobil & UGL/CIMIC successfully slashed wages by 40 percent, cut 40 years of hard-fought conditions, stripped a number of employee allowances and imposed a stand down clause that will see workers at work, but without pay,” wrote AMWU lead delegate Troy Carter in a May 20 email to international allies.

“We cannot let them get away with this and set precedence to do the same thing anywhere else in the world.”

Carter thanked the union’s supporters, noting that manning a picket line 24 hours a day, seven days a week has taken hard work and dedication. The AMWU included a five-minute video as a special thank-you to international allies who have had these members’ backs during this difficult time.

“We appreciate each and every single one of you, and hope to send you some good news soon.

“But, for the time being, it’s ‘Stand Up, Fight Back’ and ‘for as long as it takes,’” Carter said.

Click here to watch the video.

IndustriALL Again Demands Shell Address Violations in Supply Chain

IndustriALL Global Union, together with trade union affiliates from Nigeria and the Netherlands, called on Royal Dutch Shell Oil Plc (Shell) to address workers’ rights violations in its supply chain at the company’s annual general meeting in The Hague on May 21, 2019.

An IndustriALL mission to Nigeria last September witnessed Shell contract workers living in poverty, with no job security and inadequate medical care, while being denied the right to join a union.

This is the second year in a row that IndustriALL has raised the company’s refusal to recognize serious breaches of its own code of conduct by its suppliers.

To read more, click here.


Click to read more from Reuters.
U.S. Lawmaker Seeks Investigation into EPA Use of Biofuel Waivers

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) asked the EPA Office of Inspector General to investigate why the agency increased its number of biofuel waivers to small refineries to exempt them from the renewable fuel standard.

Duckworth’s inquiry followed a May 16 Reuters report that the EPA decided to expand the waiver program months before a 2017 court decision. The agency often cited the 2017 court decision to justify its actions to the corn lobby. The corn industry claims the waivers threatened the demand for ethanol. Refiners, including some USW-represented facilities, that could prove compliance would cause financial hardship, successfully sought waivers, which are important for small refineries that do not have the capacity to handle the ethanol blending process. Without the waivers, they must buy costly Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits, representing gallons of ethanol produced, which in an unregulated market can become even more expensive.

Click here to read more from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
Chemical Safety Board Calls for Updated Hydrofluoric Acid Study in Wake of 2017 Husky Refinery Fire

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a letter dated April 23 to review and update its existing 1993 hydrofluoric acid (HF) study.

The goal is to determine the effectiveness of refiners’ risk management plans in preventing a catastrophic HF release and to see if there are commercially viable and inherently safer alkylation technologies for use.

The CSB cited its investigations of two refinery explosions –one at ExxonMobil’s Torrance, Calif., refinery and one at Husky Energy’s Superior, Wis., refinery –that could have led to an HF release.

Community members attending the agency’s public hearings at each explosion site expressed concerns over the adequacy of the refiners’ risk management standards and the effectiveness of community notification systems during an HF release.

Residents in Torrance have consistently urged that the refinery use safer alternatives for the alkylation process.  


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