A contractor south-west of Melbourne has flown foreign workers into a construction site via helicopter – the reason, he says, is due to a blockade by unemployed workers.
The unemployed men blockading the Werribee Water Treatment plant have been stationed there for a week, and are protesting against the use of a group of Filipino workers on 457 visas.
The protest is now in its seventh day and is preventing 50 workers from accessing the site normally. Briagolong Engineering told the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) that the foreign workers are providing specialist tank building skills that cannot be found locally. According to the AMWU, the move to source foreign labour was presumptive and unnneccessary.
Protest co-ordinator Nick Donohue said he represents skilled unemployed people who deserve jobs. "It's going to continue. We think that there are some major flaws in the visa process," he said. "They're talking about these specialised skills. What a load of rubbish that is."
For Alan Atchison, a director of Tedra Australia, the head contractor for the project, at this stage, flying workers in is the only way they can get work done.
"We have to get people in there and we certainly didn't want to take a bus through a picket line," he said. “We have sympathy with the people who are trying to find employment but this is not the way to make a job application.”