The Victorian government has warned the construction industry must adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols if it is to remain open as the industry resumes after a two-week hiatus.
Some 10,000 workers returned to work on Tuesday after an industry roadmap for reopening a deal was reached between the state government, builders, unions and industry partners October 1.
The private construction sector has reopened to 25% of its capacity for large projects while the construction of critical state infrastructure could resume at full capacity according to the roadmap.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said there would be a series of enforcement blitzes underway as well as daily inspections of WorkSafe Victoria workers and other authorized officers to ensure construction sites were in compliance. restrictions.
“We have set higher standards… and there will be higher levels of enforcement,” she said.
“We have been very, very clear that there is a sanctions regime associated with breaking the rules, and if there is a continued demonstration of breaking the rules, the sites can be shut down.
“We have to make sure the industry stays open and that means everyone is playing by the rules.”
Victoria Police said they would remain on high alert after days of protests outside the construction union headquarters after the vaccine became mandatory for the entire industry.
Allan was unsure what percentage of the workforce had been fully vaccinated since the mandate was introduced, but said 99% of workers returning to the metro tunnel site had received at least one dose of the Covid-vaccine. 19, and 95% of those working at crossing sites had received at least one jab.
“It’s a great result,” said Allan. “They are not only able to return to work, but they also protect their co-workers… their families and their communities. “
Under the current roadmap, compliance enforcement will be a key factor in keeping the building and construction industry open.
All construction companies require an updated Covid Safety Plan, a designated Covid Marshal, and a declaration that construction sites comply with new public health requirements.
The dining rooms can reopen but have been fitted with exhaust fans and ventilation systems to promote better air circulation.
All workers must have an authorized permit and must have been fully vaccinated before November 13.
Corey Hannett, chief executive of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, said there would be a “minimal” delay in state plans following the shutdown, as some were already ahead of schedule.
From Tuesday, workers in metropolitan areas can travel to regional areas to work on small-scale construction sites if they are fully vaccinated or have medical dispensation.
Single-dose workers can travel between metropolitan and regional areas to work on state-critical projects and large-scale construction sites if tested twice a week.
At 70% of double-dose targets, full-scale construction can go back to 100% of the workforce, and at 80% all caps will be removed.
The Master Builders Association of Victoria, which has worked with industry associations and unions on the reopening plan, has welcomed the return of the sector.
The organization’s chief executive, Rebecca Casson, said the two-week shutdown had been “extremely difficult” for the construction industry, which employed some 320,000 workers.
“They know our industry provides 46% of Victoria’s tax revenue, and when our industry is shut down $ 64 million a day is lost in wages,” she said.
“When individual sites can be found to be non-compliant, they need to be held accountable and they need to be shut down individually – not our industry as a whole.”
Casson said renovation workers still couldn’t work inside occupied homes, delaying kitchen and bathroom renovations beyond Christmas.
Anthony Forsyth, professor of labor law at RMIT University, said a consensus between the CFMEU, the Victorian government and the Master Builders Association broke when it became clearer that the Covid rules were not tracked on some sites.
“The CFMEU lost control of elements of its members who were very unhappy with the changes, considered the union as an accomplice, and these various cracks allowed the anti-containment protesters to advance their own agenda,” he said. declared.
Forsyth expected the worst of the violent protests targeting unions to be over, but the anti-lockdown protests are expected to continue more broadly.
“It opened loopholes among the unions,” he said.
“Unions are going to face major challenges, as most support compulsory vaccination in the workplace where it is supported by public health orders.
“But they will be placed in the position of having to defend members who want to challenge their dismissal for refusing to be vaxxed.”