Esso apprentice wages are down by ‘50-plus per cent’

UNION have alleged new apprentices at Esso’s Longford Gas Plants are receiving a much lower rate of pay than previous apprentices.

In a letter to the editor to the Gippsland Times, Electrical Trades Union organiser Peter Mooney said that since the new training provider, WPC Group, was awarded the contract, apprentices were not being hired as direct Esso employees, which meant they had lower rates of pay.

There is no allegation of underpayment or anything illegal, but that the apprentices were now being paid under the Hydrocarbons Award, which has a different rate and allowances.

“It actually means the apprentices’ wages have been reduced by 50-plus per cent compared to what they would have been paid if they were employed with the previous employer (training group) AGA or Esso,” Mr Mooney wrote.

An Esso spokesperson said the company was pleased to offer young people in Gippsland industry experience, but specific rates of pay and conditions were a matter for WPC Group.

“It is disappointing that the unions choose to disparage rather than support a new opportunity for young people to attain meaningful work opportunities and development within Gippsland,” the spokesperson said.

“Since engaging a new training provider this year, Esso has been able to re-establish its apprenticeship program, creating employment opportunities as well as coaching, mentoring and support for a new cohort of young people in Gippsland.

“Esso expects any training provider that it engages to meet all of its obligations under the relevant state and federal training and award conditions.

“Esso has a long history of providing support and opportunities for young people in Gippsland so that they can have a long-term path for success.”

WPC Group was approached for comment, but had provided none before deadline.