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Union’s Ichthys FIFO win sets industry precedent

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) launched the case after Kentz Australia, the principal electrical contractor on the $34 billion INPEX Ichthys LNG project, made 150 FIFO workers redundant on the final day of a four-week shift, prior to the workers commencing a week of recreation leave.

Kentz Australia was lambasted by the union for reducing the termination payout for each worker by a week – counting the unpaid rostered leave as part of their notice period.

The ETU challenged the move, arguing that it was unlawful for the company to have the notice period run concurrently with rest and recreation leave.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) subsequently agreed with the union, and ordered Kentz Australia to pay more than $1 million to the workers.

Following the decision, the ETU has launched a review of the industry, which it says has identified more than 3,000 FIFO workers who have been denied more than $10 million of entitlements in the same way as the Ichthys LNG workers.

Kentz Australia is said to be considering lodging an appeal, according to a separate report in the Australian Financial Review.

The mental health of FIFO workers has emerged as a top priority in the gas industry, after the WA Parliament launched an inquiry into the mental health impacts of FIFO work arrangements. The issue took centrestage at AOG 2015, while a Queensland parliamentary committee handed down a raft of recommendations late last year aimed at improving conditions for FIFO workers on resources projects.

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