Protest reaches 200 days

Protesters and supporters in front of Esso’s Longford gas plants on day 201 of the protest.

Protesters and supporters in front of Esso’s Longford gas plants on day 201 of the protest.

THE union protest outside Longford's gas plants has now stretched to more than 200 days.

Former maintenance contractors are fighting for an increase in wages and conditions, after a 30 per cent cut in June when a new contractor was hired, and workers were asked to sign a new enterprise agreement.

Three unions — AMWU, AWU, and ETU — have supported the workers, repeatedly pointing out that Esso does not pay enough tax while hiring contractors that have cut wages.

Esso was recently featured in an Australian Tax Office list of multi-national corporations that does not pay corporate income tax in Australia, as well as a report from the Tax Justice Network Australia.

Esso does pay petroleum resource rent tax, which is separate from income tax, and has paid billions over the years.

The company will face a Senate inquiry soon, but an Esso spokesperson said the company “welcomes the opportunity to appear”.

“Esso has appeared before the Senate Economics Committee on a number of occasions and welcomes the opportunity to appear again,” they said.

“We are currently preparing a submission which will respond to many of the incorrect allegations made by the Tax Justice Network.

“When looking at tax paid it is important to look across the investment cycle, not just at a single year.

“While ExxonMobil Australia is not paying corporate income tax now, this is due to the significant costs associated with the Kipper Tuna Turrum and the West Australian Gorgon projects.

“When looked at over the last decade ExxonMobil has actually paid more than 50 cents in every dollar of profit in corporate income and petroleum resource rent tax.

“It is also important to not confuse revenue with profit, as a wholesaler of automotive fuels most of ExxonMobil Australia's revenue is made up of the cost of oil and refined product, as well as federal excise.

“Despite currently being in a corporate income tax loss position, Esso continues to pay significant amounts of tax to all levels of government including more than $250 million in petroleum resource rent tax, and millions of dollars in rates to the Wellington Shire Council.”

AMWU organiser Steve Dodd said the protest would go on until things “get put right”.

“It’ll go on until (contractor UGL) pays them a fair wages for a fair day’s work, and do an appropriate agreement,” he said.

“We've asked the company to come and meet with us ... we had a number of meetings lined up and they cancelled on us.

“We believe we're legitimately protesting.”

Gippsland Senior
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