Esso’s parent, The American Exxon Mobil, happens to be the sixth largest company in the world. It chooses to use its subsidiary in Australia for both a tax dodging and screwing workers, even though it has in its hands unimaginable wealth and is experiencing soaring profits, $7 billion for the last year.
Like many of its cohorts, the company uses the generous loopholes provided by the Australian government, to launder money and get away from paying its contribution into Australia’s taxation system.
For instance, loopholes allow the writing off interest borrowed from offshore subsidiaries, and Exxon Mobil has benefited by millions of dollars in this way, according to research by the University of Technology School of Accounting and campaign group GetUp.
The Federal Court recently ruled that the company had not paid $340 million in taxes during 2004 and 2008.
Tax avoidance is an important matter in this own right. It is also important, because it betrays the desire at the very top, to squeeze out the last drop, no matter what it cost others.
This is what lies behind efforts to drive down the wages and conditions of maintenance workers at the onshore at Longford plant and offshore facilities in Bass Strait. Using a contractor, wages have been cut by up to 30 percent and new family unfriendly rosters put in place.
A significant part of the wage cuts, comes through a reduction on loadings and the allowance paid to those who work offshore. Annual leave has been reduced as well.
The new roster turns away from the one week on, one week off system and is replaced with five weeks on and one week off.
Instead of lying down, the workers have refused to accept the changes and have been sacked for doing so. Rather than give in, they have been waging ongoing action and maintaining a picket on the Longford site.
Scabby, the mascot from the CUB was there. The connection? Here too management tried to use the same method to the same end.
CUB came unstuck and had to pull back and it is hoped that the same will happen here.
Esso took the matter to the court and Scabby was ordered off. Greedy the Fat Cat is now on the scene.
The battle continues unabated and the Esso workers are being recognised and winning increasing support around the country and they are being supported by their unions, the Australian Manufacturing Union, the Electrical Trades Union and the Australian Workers Union.
This is an important battle, because it is another test case that will have repercussions on the wages and conditions of the whole Australian workforce, by setting a precedent that allows conditions that have been hard fought for over the years to be torn up. The question is, can we afford for this to happen?
Scabby at Longford
Greedy the Fat cat