NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Shell slammed by ETU over advanced knowledge of ‘brutal’ mass sacking. Pic: Hollie Adams/The Australian
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Shell slammed by ETU over advanced knowledge of ‘brutal’ mass sacking. Pic: Hollie Adams/The Australian

Shell slammed over execution of ‘brutal’ mass sacking

Explosive claims have been made that international energy giant Shell Energy had days of advanced knowledge that 230 casual electrical workers would be sacked from their mass Gangarri solar project on the Western Downs, despite workers finding out only hours before their shifts were to begin.

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Shell's major contractor Sterling and Wilson hired Davis Contracting's recruitment group Torque - who sent hundreds of casual workers a text terminating their employment hours before work on Monday, February 8.

Electrical Trades Union Southwest Queensland organiser Dan McGaw said Shell did nothing, despite knowing 48 hours beforehand.

"Shell knew the workers were getting fired, I have the emails to prove it," he said.

"And they sat there and did nothing - it makes me so angry that multinational companies can come to our shores and treat Australian workers this way."

When asked if Shell knew about the mass sacking of hundreds of blue-collar workers days before the event occurred, a spokeswoman for the company said they were "currently aware" of ongoing issues between Sterling & Wilson and their subcontractors.

"Shell takes these matters very seriously and is working closely with Sterling & Wilson to assist in finding a resolution," she said.

"We recognise the impact on those individuals who have been affected and will be looking to ensure they are provided with all possible support."

The Chinchilla News asked Shell if the company tried to help negotiations between the disputing contactors to mitigate job loss before the workers were fired, although the spokeswoman did not provide a specific time for when they intervened.

"We have been working with the primary contractor Sterling & Wilson for some time to assist in finding a resolution that's in the best interests of those who are impacted and ensures the safe delivery of this important project," she said.

Mr McGaw said the "brutal" sacking of the workers within the energy sector highlighted the company's complete disregard of worker's rights, and he feared more solar projects built across the state would take advantage of loopholes.

"It's important to talk about this because we need to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.

"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," 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."

The spokeswoman said Shell recognises the significant contribution that contract workers make to their operations across the country.

"We remain committed to working with Sterling and Wilson in finding a resolution that's in the best interests of those who are impacted that considers all available options, including opportunities for redeployment," she said.

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