Construction workers have blocked streets across Melbourne to protest the state government’s new coronavirus restrictions for the industry.
Dozens of workers blocked Lonsdale Street on Friday morning with plastic chairs and tables while they took a smoke break, forcing the cancellation of trams on nearby Spencer Street.
Similar protests have also occurred in Brunswick, Coburg, Kew, Parkville and Richmond.
The roads have now been cleared.
It comes after the Victorian government imposed tough restrictions on the industry, given 13 per cent of the state’s active COVID-19 cases have been linked to transmission at construction sites.
From 11:59pm on Friday, tea rooms at construction sites must shut and food and drink can no longer be consumed indoors, while travel between Melbourne and the regions for work will be banned.
All construction workers will be required to show evidence to their employer that they’ve had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, by 11.59pm on September 23.
Limited medical exemptions and proof-of-booking exceptions will apply, in keeping with the vaccine mandate for aged care workers.
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Victorian state construction union secretary John Setka said the decision to close tea rooms was “appalling”, given it was made without consulting the CFMEU.
“It’s not really a protest,” he told 3AW radio on Friday.
“What they decided was if we can’t sit in the smoko shed, where do we have our break? So they’ve taken all the tables and chairs out into the fresh air.
“They’ve got nowhere else to have their smoko.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said the decision was backed by health advice and designed to keep the construction industry open at its 25 per cent workforce cap.
“If they want to work and be part of that 25 per cent, they need to be vaccinated with one dose by midnight next Thursday night,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“If they’re not, they won’t be able to come on site. That’s keeping them open. The other thing would be to close them down to zero.”
The industry was earlier this week warned it risked losing its authorised worker status amid the launch of an enforcement and vaccination blitz.
At the time, the state’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar described tea rooms as the “most dangerous place” to contract the virus.Internet Explorer Channel Network