Victorian-era construction workers staged a furious protest outside union offices on Monday, opposing the state jobsite vaccination mandate and other public health measures designed to limit the latest outbreak of COVID-19.
Several hundred people demonstrated outside the Melbourne office of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), chanting and insulting union leaders for their alleged involvement in the new crackdown.
The protest stems from Prime Minister Daniel Andrews’ announcement Thursday that all Victorian construction workers must have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by midnight on Thursday, September 23 to continue working.
Workplace tea rooms have also been closed over fear of transmission in the workplace, with the state government concerned that some construction sites have become a “vector” of transmission in the areas. regional.
The capacity of the site was already capped at 25% of the usual occupancy.
Monday’s protest targeted CFMEU secretary John Setka, who opposed mandatory vaccination programs while also rejecting vaccine misinformation spreading in some circles of construction workers.
Images posted on social media show Setka trying to calm the crowd by asking, “So you want us to shut down the whole construction industry?” “
“Stop it,” replied the crowd. Other chants included profanity hurled at Andrews and the vaccine itself.
In a statement obtained by the Herald Sun, a spokesperson for the CFMEU said bad actors and external influencers were part of the fray.
“We are not going to be intimidated by outside extremists who manipulate members and try to intimidate the union, and spread disinformation and lies about the union’s position,” they said.
The protest was a flashpoint for an industry striving to increase vaccination rates among its workforce.
Developers such as Multiplex, Built and ADCO have partnered with Master Builders Victoria for the “Get The Jab Done” campaign, encouraging traders to make an appointment or speak with their GP.
Businesses welcome reopening plan but question details
Monday’s protest came a day after Andrews revealed the state’s plan to move away from lockdowns and reduce restrictions as vaccination rates rise.
Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen in metropolitan Melbourne once a vaccination rate of 70% is reached. The roadmap suggests this will happen on October 26.
All retail, hairstyling, beauty and personal care businesses will reopen when the vaccination rate hits 80%, scheduled for Nov. 5. At the same time, the occupancy limits of reception places will increase.
The Victorian Tourism Industry Council hailed the plan as a “light at the end of the tunnel”, and CEO Felicia Mariani described the plan as a “strong commitment to open state”.
Mariani said clarity around COVID-19 vaccination mandates and continued funding for hard-hit operators remain essential.
“We need to see recognition of the vital role this industry plays in supporting Victoria’s economic fortunes and promoting her profile to the world,” she said.
The Australian Retailers Association welcomed the roadmap, but said it was concerned that retail outlets would only open when vaccination rates hit 80% – something the state government estimated to take place around November 5.
“We appreciate that the health and safety of the community must come first, but we cannot hide our concern for vulnerable retailers who will have been closed continuously for 13 weeks in total – which will unfortunately be unsustainable for some,” said CEO Paul. Zahra.
The Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Industry has issued a tougher opinion, questioning why the state’s plan does not more closely mirror that of New South Wales.
“Business has been in crisis for 20 months,” said managing director Paul Guerra.
“Today’s announcement further intensifies this crisis and many companies will not come out of it.”