The Victorian government has shut down construction in Melbourne and in locked-down regional areas for two weeks, due to reduced compliance and to stop coronavirus transmitting.
It follows violent scenes of protestors outside the CFMEU’s Melbourne office on Monday, opposing the government’s requirement for construction workers to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose this week.
The government announced the two-week industry shut down late Monday night, pointing to multiple outbreaks linked to construction.
The order will close down all construction projects in metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire.
Work will be permitted in limited cases to respond to site emergencies or perform essential construction work for public safety.
Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the government had warned the industry about compliance.
“We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,” Pallas said.
“We have seen widespread non-compliance across the industry and that’s why we’re taking necessary steps to protect every single Victorian.”
Victoria has recorded multiple COVID-19 outbreaks linked to construction, with the workforce more mobile than other permitted workers.
On Monday a statement on behalf of the four major construction unions said they had warned the state government against requiring construction workers to be vaccinated.
“We have strongly conveyed to the highest levels of government that these restrictions will be unworkable and too heavy-handed,” the statement said.
The government says all sites will need to demonstrate compliance with health orders before reopening – including that all workers show evidence to their employer of having had one vaccination dose before they can return to construction sites on October 5.
Health Minister Martin Foley said construction workers could get priority access for a vaccine appointment.