Labour and megaprojects: Rethinking productivity and industrial relations policy

02 June 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has brought industrial relations policy to the centre of attention in many countries. In 2020, the Australian government convened tripartite bodies to address policy in several areas, one being for agreement-making to cover labour on ‘megaprojects’. This initiative revisited criticisms of unions for driving costs up and productivity down on these worksites, the most expensive of which had been Chevron’s Gorgon site, a liquefied natural gas project off the north-west Australian coast. Drawing on four usually siloed literatures – on industrial relations policy, megaprojects, the economic geography of resources and labour process – this article explains concerns about costs, delays and productivity in terms of project work itself. This approach leads to a different understanding of the merits of changing policy to address megaproject’s problems and productivity more broadly.