Fury as migrant workers keep jobs and Australians let go in Pilbara
Andrew Burrell; 2/3/10
Industrial tensions in the Pilbara are escalating after an engineering contractor sacked 54 Australian workers at a $5.2 billion Chinese-owned iron ore project while retaining up to 70 Filipinos with similar skills. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union will today meet representatives of the Adelaide-based Ottoway Engineering in a bid to find out why migrant workers are apparently being favoured ahead of locals at Citic Pacific’s mine at Cape Preston, near Karratha. The AMWU says the Australian workers were “irate” after being told last week they had been retrenched. The controversy adds to weeks of mounting industrial friction in the region, with workers at Woodside’s $12bn Pluto gas project walking off the job last month in protest against their accommodation arrangements. One of the sacked workers who spoke to The Australian yesterday, but did not want to be named, said: “Legally, it (sacking Australians but keeping on foreigners) may be right, but ethically and morally it’s wrong. I am competing against foreign workers for a job and now my livelihood has been taken away from me.