Victorian construction industry goes into partial shutdown after protests


The Victorian government has taken drastic action after a chaotic day of violent protests in Melbourne, with scenes labeled “objectionable”.

The Victorian construction industry will be shut down in locked parts of the state for two weeks in response to violent protests in Melbourne.

The Master Builders Association of Victoria has confirmed the rapid closure of all construction and construction sites in metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, the Surf Coast, Ballarat and the Mitchell Shire from 11:59 p.m. on Monday.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the MBAV said its representatives had met with Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas, Trade Minister Martin Pakula and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan.

“We are sending this message before any official (government) announcement,” the statement said.

“While the period is set at two weeks, the restrictions will only be in effect until each of these local government areas is restricted for.”

Ballarat’s lockdown is expected to end on Wednesday, while the Surf Coast, Ballarat and Mitchell Shire entered a weeklong lockdown on Sunday night.

The Andrews government released its own statement later Monday evening.

“The immediate shutdown action is being taken to reduce travel, minimize transmission, and allow industry as a whole to adapt appropriately to the director of health’s instructions, including increased rates of vaccination, ”he said.

“The Victorian government will be working with stakeholders over the next few days to determine the best way for the industry to fully comply with the instructions. “

All sites will be required to demonstrate compliance prior to reopening, including a requirement for workers to show their employer proof that they have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine prior to their return to the site on the 5th. October.

“We alerted the industry just a week ago, we have seen appalling behavior on the spot and on our streets, and now we are acting decisively and without hesitation,” said Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas .

The MBAV said the Victorian government had informed that the shutdown was the result of increased transmissions of Covid-19 in the building and construction industry, combined with the riots in Melbourne on Monday.

A violent scuffle took place in the city on Monday after hundreds of people descended on union headquarters to protest mandatory vaccinations for construction workers.

Riot police were called as doors and windows were smashed by protesters who attempted to storm CFMEU headquarters.

The protest organizers were unable to control the angry crowd.

The Victorian Building Industry Group of Unions released its own statement on Monday evening, criticizing the government’s “unrealistic and brutal approach” to coronavirus regulations, including mandatory vaccinations.

“The Building Industry Group of Unions maintains the view that the construction industry would have voluntarily achieved high levels of immunization without a brutal approach,” said a spokesperson for BIGU.

“This muscular mandate of the director of health, which was implemented without warning, only served to push many people towards the anti-Vax movement.

“We call on the Andrews government, the Chief Health Officer and the Department of Health to come up with a sensible return-to-work scenario that takes into account the realities of our industry and respects the workers who built this city. “

The state government held a series of high-level talks on Monday to consider its response to the chaos.

“The activities of extremists and those manipulated by extremists today don’t really help when you’re trying to persuade health officials to keep the industry safe for Covid,” the CFMEU boss said, Dave Noonan, on ABC radio. .

“We never want to see the industry shut down because it hurts people economically.”

“We ask people who may have seen their real and legitimate concerns and fears manipulated by these people to think carefully about whether attacking other construction workers and our offices is really something that makes sense. with saying that you care about health and safety, ”Mr. Noonan said.

“It’s not, it’s a shameful thing to do, and they should get away from these extremists who have no interest in our industry, no interest in our values ​​and our communities.

“They should deny them and have nothing to do with them because they will only ruin our industry.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions issued a statement on Monday condemning the attack, calling the actions “reprehensible”.

“Workers across the country are under extreme pressure due to the threat to life and health posed by the pandemic, and restrictions that health experts deem necessary to save lives,” a door said. -spoke in a statement, citing violent right-wing extremists and “anti-vaccination activists”.

“Those who exploit this pressure and seek to divide people are a danger to all of us.

“Trade unions prioritize worker safety.

“High vaccination rates are the only way for us to get out of lockdown, save jobs and return to work in safe workplaces and communities.

“Australian unions will never be intimidated by violence or threats from extremists who refuse to put the good of the community first.

Days earlier, traders held rallies across Melbourne to protest the closing of teahouses on construction sites.

Construction is one of the few industries that has remained open during most of the coronavirus closures in Victoria.

The state government announced last week that construction workers would no longer be allowed to cross between the metropolis and the Victoria area, in a bid to curb outbreaks at construction sites.

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