CFMEU headquarters declared COVID-19 tier one exposure site

The union is blaming the protestors' 'reckless' behaviour

CFMEU headquarters declared COVID-19 tier one exposure site

The head office of the Victorian Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has been declared a COVID-19 tier one exposure site a week after the establishment was hit by protests against vaccine mandates. ABC reported that four positive cases had been recorded to date, forcing a number of staff and officials into two-week quarantine.

CFMEU Victoria and Tasmania president Robert Graauwmans was one of confirmed cases, according to news.com.au, and he is currently doing well. State secretary John Setka, who was heckled by protestors last week, was also forced into isolation after recent confirmed cases. The reported cases come after the construction industry was shut down for two weeks amid protests against vaccine mandates. CFMEU blamed the protestors' "reckless and irresponsible behaviour" for the COVID-19 situation at the headquarters.

"This outbreak caused by the disgusting behaviour of selfish and reckless people with no regard to wellbeing of the thousands of construction workers or their families will not deter out commitment to getting construction back open and all our members back to work," said Setka in a statement.

Read more: FWC ruling exposes divide on mandatory vaccines

He pointed out that the shutdown has prevented constructions workers from earning an income and puts "enormous stress on families."

"The shutdown of the industry last week was devastating for 300,000 plus construction workers and the of lack of prior consultation from the CHO (chief health officer) even more frustrating."

The two-week shutdown from the government was ordered to stamp out COVID-19 outbreaks linked to the sector, according to Treasurer Tim Pallas in a statement, adding that it is also due to concerns with the industry's compliance to vaccine mandates. They can only return on October 5 after receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, he said.

Workers have been protesting against the mandates and rallied outside the CFMEU headquarters after speculations that the union supported the jab policy.

Setka previously denied the claims, adding that the union is opposed to making vaccinations a condition to work. The union said the protests last week was "infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremist groups."

"It is clear that a minority of those who participated were actual union members," it added.

Setka said in a statement that the union is "working tirelessly" to get the sector open again and bring workers back to work.

"We are working tirelessly on a road map for the government and CHO to get construction open and everyone back to work," Setka said.

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