More than 600 workers are being stood down from the $36 billion Inpex gas project in Darwin.
The head contractor JKC Australia LNG confirmed 640 direct employees had been stood down, and Laing O’Rourke said a further 200 sub-contractors were also affected.
It is understood a contractual dispute between Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Laing O’Rouke is at the centre of the layoffs.
Laing O’Rouke has the contract to build cryogenic tanks at the Inpex site on behalf of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, one of the largest contracts on the project.
The ABC understands Laing O’Rouke has withdrawn over the dispute.
Laing O’Rourke said all workers would still get their entitlements, despite receiving no payments from Kawaski over the past four months.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) spokesman Josh Burling told the ABC the lay-offs had taken workers by surprise.
“Laing O-Rourke has shipped everyone off-site on the buses, and they will be getting de-mobed today from Darwin on planes and sent home to be redundant and without a job,” he said.
He told the ABC he received a phone call early this morning from a Laing O’Rourke representative confirming the layoffs.
Mr Burling said he had been told workers were beginning to clear out of the workers’ camp at Howard Springs, and that Laing O’Rouke had chartered a flight to Brisbane this afternoon to move as many workers as possible off-site.
‘No dispute’ with Kawasaki or Laing O’Rourke: JKC
JKC said it expected the dispute to be resolved and the works to continue.
“JKC is not in dispute with the Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Laing O’Rourke Consortium, and the subcontract for this scope of work remains in place,” JKC’s statement said.
“The engineering, procurement and construction of the cryogenic tanks is approximately 91 per cent complete, and JKC remains committed to delivering this scope of work and the overall Ichthys Project Onshore LNG Facilities.”