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Gorgon workers banned from sitting down

Employees at Chevron's Gorgon liquified gas project have been banned from using chairs and told they can't sit down during their shift.

PT1M35S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2b71n 620 349

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has questioned whether the author of a memo banning workers on Chevron's Gorgon liquefied gas  project from sitting down on the job was seated when he wrote it.

The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday morning broke the news that staff on the $US52 billion project in Western Australia have been banned from using chairs and told not to sit down during their shifts.

The directive was a bid to improve productivity on Australia's biggest resources development.

Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Asked about the story this morning, Mr Shorten said that in his  experience of Australian workplaces, most employees work hard. "And  they don't need advice about whether they should sit down or stand
 up," he said.

 "Presumably the person that typed up that communications document was sitting down when they [wrote] it," Mr Shorten said. "I am sure that  this [memo] must have been put out by some mid level person with more  time on their hands than productivity goals that they have got to  set." 

The Australian Financial Review reported that one of the lead Gorgon contractors issued a memo on Sunday to its workers titled "Efficient  production of work crews".

Leighton Contractors, which is working on more than $1 billion of construction deals on Gorgon, laid out a series of instructions to its  employees to reduce the amount of time lost on the job. It warned  wages would be docked for procedural breaches.

"Labour is not allowed to sit down during normal working hours, unless their duties require," said the leaked memo obtained by The Australian Financial Review.

"Labour is allowed to sit down during normal working hours in the  approved shade huts for short rest breaks and hydration. Full crews are not allowed in the shade hut, only one at a time so work can always continue on the site."

Chevron last week blamed poor productivity at the remote Barrow Island site off WA as one of the chief triggers for a surge in the cost  estimate to build Gorgon to $US52 billion from $US37 billion when it  got the go-ahead in September 2009.