The government of Australian state Victoria has shut down the construction industry in metropolitan Melbourne and other local government areas (LGAs) for two weeks following a violent protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.
“All government construction projects in metropolitan Melbourne and relevant LGAs will be closed, with no new work to be completed — other than work required to make the site safe and secure,” the Victorian government announced on Sept. 20.
Industrial Relations Tim Pallas said in a statement that the government was acting “decisively” in response to “appalling behavior,” referring to violent protests outside the Melbourne building of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU).
“We’ve been clear: if you don’t follow the rules, we won’t hesitate to take action — we have seen widespread non-compliance across the industry and that’s why we’re taking necessary steps to protect every single Victorian,” Pallas said.
Demonstrators damaged the CFMEU building in protests against a requirement for construction workers to show proof of at least one vaccine dose to access their workplace.
CFMEU said in a statement that some of its members were injured “from the acts of violence including the throwing of bottles.”
“These are not actions of people who care about their workmates and the construction industry. They are the actions of extremists or people manipulated by extremists,” CFMEU said, claiming that the crowd of protesters “was heavily infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other right wing extremist groups.”
Protesters also clashed with riot police who used rubber bullets and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
Masters Builders Victoria Chief Executive Rebecca Casson described the shut down as “a bitter blow for the vast majority of building and construction industry businesses.”
More protests are expected on Sept. 21.
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