Daniel Andrews has been accused of causing ‘distress and chaos’ by shutting down construction for two weeks, putting 320,000 workers out of a job.
The Victorian government said the move was needed to stop the spread of Covid because too many workers are breaking social-distancing and mask-wearing rules.
There are currently 403 Covid-19 cases linked to the construction sector, across 186 sites.
Victoria recorded 603 new cases on Tuesday, its highest total since 725 on August 5 last year.
Daniel Andrews has been accused of causing ‘distress and chaos’ by shutting down construction for two weeks, putting 320,000 workers out of a job
Protesters clashed with police on Monday in Melbourne to demonstrate against mandatory vaccination
But Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas admitted anti-vaccination protests by a minority of construction workers – who demonstrated violently outside a union headquarters on Monday – also prompted the shut down.
‘There’s been a very serious set of behaviours including on our streets which, in itself, is a public health risk,’ he said.
Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the move was unfair on the majority of law-abiding workers.
‘Today, more than 320,000 Victorian workers in the building and construction industry – representing 9.3 per cent of all Victorian jobs – are seemingly being punished for the actions of a violent minority of CFMMEU protesters yesterday,’ he said.
‘Having suffered some of the longest lockdowns anywhere in the world, the last thing Victorians need at this time is more distress and chaos.
‘Whether it’s the apprentice carpenter from Frankston, the brickie from Geelong or the concreter from Ballarat, these Victorians should not be made to suffer as retaliation for the actions of violent protesters in Carlton yesterday.
‘Not to mention the first home buyers, renovators and home builders who will suffer financially as a result of their projects being delayed and lives disrupted.’
A heavy police presence is seen on Elizabeth Street during a protest at the CFMEU headquarters on Monday
Hundreds of protesters have started to gather outside CFMEU’S union head office on Tuesday
The federal government expects the shut-down will cost $2.2 billion in construction activity and almost $640 million in lost wages over two weeks.
Union officials say the protest was run by far-right groups pretending to be tradies who are furious about laws which require construction workers to get vaccinated.
On Friday the Victorian Government announced that construction workers will need to show evidence to their employer that they have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11.59pm on September 23.
On Tuesday anti-vax protesters and police again faced off in tense scenes on the streets of Melbourne – as their bizarre 12-point manifesto emerged calling for Mr Andrews’ resignation and the mass distribution of unproven Covid cure Invermectin.
Hundreds of protesters started to gather outside CFMEU’S union head office on Tuesday, only a day after the building was badly damaged in violent demonstrations on Monday.
Three of the demands called for Victoria’s leading figureheads in its pandemic response to stand down – Premier Daniel Andrews, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.
Police detain a man during a protest at the CFMEU headquarters on September 20
CFMEU boss John Setka earlier blasted ‘fake tradies’ and ‘man-baby Nazis’ who sparked Monday’s violent scenes outside union headquarters – prompting Daniel Andrews to shut down the entire industry for two weeks.
Hundreds of workers in hi-vis vests gathered outside the union’s head office in Melbourne on Monday to protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirements, which come into effect for the construction industry later this week.
The protest turned violent as demonstrators clashed with Mr Setka and other union officials, hurling abuse and projectiles and smashing glass windows.
Mr Setka is furious 300,000 construction staff state-wide have lost work because of the actions of ‘fake tradies’ at the protest, describing them as ‘scum of the earth, drunken and un-Australian morons’.
It comes as Victoria recorded 603 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily tally in the current outbreak and since August 2020, bringing the number of active cases to 6,000.
A protest turned violent outside CFMEU headquarters in Melbourne, prompting the state government to shut down the entire industry
‘There were a few of anti-vaxxer activists there who are not union members or are from our industry, they’re the ones you see at all the protests,’ Mr Setka told the Today show on Tuesday.
‘It just got out of control. Then they were consuming a whole heap of alcohol. Thanks to these morons, 300,000 Victorians are sitting at home for at least the next couple of weeks, could drag out even longer.’
Mr Setka described how he went out to address the hostile crowd but was eventually forced to retreat back inside as protestors turned on him.
‘We went out there to see what it was all about,’ he said.
‘There was a sprinkling of construction workers there of our members and the rest were just people, I wouldn’t even know who they are.
‘You couldn’t even talk. We tried to keep it all calm, and it just got out of chrome. People started throwing bottles. Some of them were fighting amongst themselves.
‘You know, once they started throwing the bottles, that was it we just said this is too dangerous, let’s move back in. It just got out of control from there.’
Mr Setka said he was blindsided by the state government’s snap decision to shut down the construction industry statewide.
‘It wasn’t like there was full-on consultation us with,’ he said.
‘I have never spoken to Daniel Andrews to be honest. I have never met him and never spoken to him. I’ve had no discussions with Daniel Andrews ever.’
He doesn’t believe the shutdown was payback for recent criticism of the state government’s public health orders and agreed it had no other choice but to shut down the industry.
‘I don’t think they had much of an alternative but to do what they’ve done,’ Mr Setka said.
‘It’s unfortunate, because families rely on a pay packet every week, and the problem with it is, I think it’s going to go longer than two weeks.
‘They can thank all the drunk morons yesterday. This lays squarely on their shoulders.’
Mr Setka fears the construction industry will be shut down for longer than two weeks as a result of Monday’s ugly scenes outside CFMEU headquarters
Ex-unionist and federal MP Bill Shorten also slammed the ‘fake tradies’ and ‘man-baby Nazis’ earlier in the program.
‘Some of those people in the crowd were construction workers, but others, I’m reliably informed, were fake tradies,’ he said.
‘They’d been down to the Reject Shop and got themselves a $2 hi-viz hoodie so they could pretend they were construction.’
On Monday night, the state government shut down the industry for two weeks in metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire.
All worksites will need to demonstrate compliance with health directions prior to reopening.
This includes a requirement for workers to show evidence of having had at least one dose of a vaccine before they return to work on October 5.
Many of those who attended Monday’s protest have been described as ‘fake tradies’ and ‘man-baby Nazis’ (protestor pictured)
Mr Shorten defended the CFMEU saying the construction union was being responsible and encouraging people to get vaccinated.
‘There is a network of hard-right man-baby Nazis, just people who just want to cause trouble – these man-babies, they want to complain about vaccinations,’ he said.
‘They deserve to get the full force of everything that’s coming their way.’
It’s believed the protesters plan to gather again outside the CFMEU from 10am on Tuesday.
The Victorian branch of CFMEU said it had always supported freedom of choice regarding vaccination.
‘We are not going to be intimidated by outside extremists attempting to intimidate the union, by spreading misinformation and lies about the union’s position,’ it said in a statement on Monday.
The Victorian government said the shutdown was required to cut down movement, reduce Covid-19 transmission and give the industry time to adapt to new requirements.
An audit of about 200 construction sites last week found 73 per cent were failing to comply with health directions.
A protester is pictured screaming in the face of police officers monitoring the rally on Monday (pictured) as the situation became increasingly heated
‘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,’ Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said.
An amnesty will be in place on Tuesday so a limited number of workers can attend construction sites to shut them down safely.
All sites will need to demonstrate compliance with the chief health officer’s directions prior to reopening, including evidence workers have had one dose of a vaccine before they return to work on October 5.
The Property Council of Australia said the shutdown would cost the economy $1.1 billion a week.
‘The majority of construction sites and construction workers are doing everything required of them to meet the highest standards of COVID safety and have done so since the pandemic started,’ executive director Danni Hunter said in a statement.
‘Closing the industry will prevent them going to work and getting paid and it will stall projects causing immensely costly delays, putting projects and Victorian jobs at risk.’