Victoria lockdown: Construction workers’ protest turns violent over mandatory vaccination and tearoom ban

A rally against mandatory vaccinations and new restrictions on construction industry sites turned violent with water bottles and crates of bread thrown in front of the CFMEU office.

A rally against mandatory vaccinations turned violent outside the offices of the Construction, Forestry, Marine, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in Melbourne.

Hundreds of construction workers, dressed in high-visibility helmets and hard hats, gathered on Elizabeth Street in the city, calling on the union to stand up for the workforce.

CFMEU Secretary of State John Setka tried to calm the angry crowd who called him “Dan Andrews’ b ****.”

“Everyone, please calm down,” he shouted. “I am ready to listen to anyone.”

But his calls were ignored by shocking social media footage showing shopkeepers shouting over union representatives guarding the door before bottles of water and crates of bread were thrown at them.

Punches and kicks were reportedly thrown with a person who allegedly used a loudspeaker as a weapon, hitting workers who were attempting to break into the building.

Protesters earlier could be heard chanting “stand up or quit”.

Tensions finally eased, CFMEU members closed the doors and traders applauded.

Construction workers will need to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday if they are to continue working.

Tea and break rooms were also banned last week after Chief Medical Officer of Health Professor Brett Sutton warned they were becoming “one of the most dangerous places” in a workplace for the transmission of the coronavirus.

A similar but peaceful protest took place on Friday with traders setting up tables and chairs on tram lines during their breaks.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has warned he does not want to shut down the construction industry after a number of infections in Melbourne and the Victoria area were linked to construction sites.

“I would just say the protests don’t work against this virus. The protests are not smart, they are not safe,” he said at his COVID-19 press conference on Monday.

“This industry is 25 percent open (capacity). We want to hit it at 50 and 57 percent. Getting vaccinated is an extremely important part of that.”

He added that the restrictions put in place were aimed at helping the construction industry to operate safely and stressed that unemployed Victorians would be confused as to why they are protesting.

“I have nothing but respect for the people who are building our city and our state as a government that we have supported and built this industry more than any other in the history of this state,” Mr. Andrews said.

“But there would be a whole bunch of people back home because their industry is closed and they would wonder why anyone would protest to be opened.

“However, it has to be done safely, otherwise the industry will have to operate under different parameters and I would no doubt be informed that it needs to be shut down. I wouldn’t want to do this.”

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