More than 200 southwest energy workers woke up to the heart stopping news that their service was no longer required after an alleged contact dispute. FULL DETAILS:
More than 200 southwest energy workers woke up to the heart stopping news that their service was no longer required after an alleged contact dispute. FULL DETAILS:

‘NO NOTICE’: Hundreds of workers stood down from project

More than 200 Gangarri Solar farm workers in Wandoan woke up on Monday morning to the heart stopping news their jobs were gone after an alleged contract dispute between their employers.

About 230 casual workers had completed just 13 per cent of the electrical installation for the 120MW Gangarri solar project, the first solar farm to be built by international giants Shell QGC, which contracts numerous companies, including Davis Contracting.

Just hours before they were due to start work, at least 230 casual workers were sent text messages at 6am on Monday, February 8, by Davis Contracting's recruitment group Torque.

Electrical Trades Union Queensland organiser Dan McGaw said the workers were told to pack their bags, after an alleged dispute between primary contractor EPC, Sterling and Wilson, and Davis Contracting.

"The workers weren't given any notice, every single worker on the job is employed on a casual basis," Mr McGaw said.

"Big business like Wilson have exploited the loophole in the fair work legislation … where they can let workers go at a whim, they don't care how the workers are treated, it's all about getting the biggest bang for their buck.

"The renewal industry should not be casual.. it's usually for someone who works in a coffee shop 12 hours a week, not an electrician or a mechanical worker doing 60 plus hours every week."

Mr McGaw fears as more solar projects continue to be built in the region, more blue-collar workers will be taken advantage of by large companies.

"We don't usually see mass layoffs like this until the end of a project… not like this, the electrical component of this project is only 13 per cent complete," he said.

"The solar industry is a bit of a cowboy industry at the moment where there are a lot of uncertainty in the industry, so until contractors can sort their rates out and do the right thing by the owners of the solar farms and workers, I think we might see more of this in the future."

A Shell QGC spokesman told Renew Energy they hoped issues at the solar project would be resolved, although said they couldn't speak on behalf of their contractors.

"We are aware of the matter, and Shell is working with our primary contractor Sterling & Wilson to assist in finding a resolution," the spokesman said.

"Shell remains committed to the safe delivery of this project, which will generate ongoing benefits to the local community, deliver 120 megawatts of solar electricity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 300,000 tonnes a year."

The industrial scale solar farm will generate 120 megawatts of solar electricity from about 400,000 photovoltaic panels which will feed into their gas plants.

 

Here is the message hundreds of workers woke up to:

 

Torque jobs have been advised by the host employer that Saturday 6th was the final shift and they no longer require casual labour hire personnel on the Gangarri Solar Project until further advised. You will be required to make arrangements to vacate any supplied accommodation this morning Feb 8th and return to your regular places of residence.

In accordance with your Notice of Offer your current assignment will end as of this morning Feb 8th; the Recruitment Team will be in contact with suitable labour hire roles as and when they come available.

 

 

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