Chevron's plans to import labour for its Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) project has caught the ire of Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, which claimed Australia has more than enough competent local workers following the fallout of several mining projects of big global companies.
The Australian federal government had recently gave Chevron permission to bring in and facilitate the processing of 457 visas for semi-skilled foreign labour should it fail to find enough Australian locals to work for its LNG project.
"It's really short-sighted. I'm disappointed in the government (for granting the visas) and Chevron," Steve McCartney, West Australian secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, told AAP on Friday.
Mr McCartney noted the reduced expansion plans of BHP Billiton alone in its Pilbara operations have rendered a number of workers jobless. Moreover, there exists in south Perth a huge youth unemployment problem. These young folks could be given a chance if only Chevron risks to train them.
But a spokeswoman for Chevron said the agreement it entered with the federal government was only a back-up plan should it fail to source its required labour credentials from the Australian resident workforce.
"We'll be ensuring that Chevron and its contractors use the government's Resources Sector Jobs Board to recruit locally before any overseas workers are brought in under the arrangement," a spokesman for federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told AAP.