Sacked workers banned from Exxon AGM in Texas
ETU Delegate, Dane Coleman, and AMWU Delegate, Troy Carter, led the delegation to the US. They had planned to ask questions of the Exxon bosses about the Australian outfit's substandard labour practices, tax cheating and potential environmental contamination in Gippsland.
Exxon, which owns the Esso and Mobil brands, has not paid any corporate income tax in Australia since 2013, and won’t until at least 2021.
AMWU Delegate and fitter, Troy Carter, had prepared questions on the dispute and the risk of the ongoing industrial battle to Exxon’s Australian profits, only to be told that Exxon security staff were going to turn him away at the door.
They had planned to use proxies given to them from Mary Sobecki, Chief Executive of Ohio-based charity The Needmor Fund, and Benedictine nun, Sister Patricia Kirk OSB. Often social justice organisations hold shares in large companies to hold them to account on environmental, labour and human rights issues.
Mr Carter said he was angry Exxon banned him and the workers from the meeting.
“We have come to the other side of the world to tell these big bosses that what Exxon are doing to our community is wrong. I wanted to tell them that cutting our pay and starving us into submission is wrong. But they won’t even let me say that.”
“We were told by many people that when they walked in they spotted ‘AUSTRALIANS = BANNED’ written on the sign-in sheet. It’s unbelievable. What about freedom of speech?” he said.
ETU Delegate and electrician, Dane Coleman, says the workers had genuine questions for shareholders about the risks of laying off an experienced maintenance workforce on such a significant project.
“We have decades of combined experience on those rigs. One mistake and it could all blow up – just like it did in 1998, taking lives. Exxon’s shareholders need to know their Australian management is risking everything for a few cents.”
“Someone needs to grab this company by the scruff of the neck and throw them out of the country.”