Construction site safety in Melbourne has become a matter of contention recently which has pitted authorities and large construction firms against workers and unions, culminating in a massive rally in the Melbourne CBD.
Melbourne has some of the worst construction safety records in the country which is one of the reasons why thousands of Melbourne workers marched on Tuesday in solidarity for safety in the workplace.
According to an article on HeraldSun.com.au about 5-10 thousand workers rallied in the city centre in the name of safety.
The march which started outside the Trades Hall began with a minute of silence while workers faced the site in Swanston Street where 3 people died in a recent wall collapse on March 28th . The crowd spanned 10 city blocks and included over 5000 people.
Construction workers and their supporters marched through Melbourne’s CBD on Tuesday morning in a union-led rally to protest against what they believe is lax safety standards by building giant Grocon. The protestors then moved to the Grocon-managed Emporium building site also the site of a controversial union-led blockade last year.
The march has been condemned by Premier Denis Napthine who lashed out at the construction union as being “beneath contempt” for staging a rally at the site of last month’s CBD wall tragedy which he said would insult those who had lost their lives there.
The article on HeraldSun.com.au went on to explain:
Speaking this afternoon, Mr Napthine said the rally would cause pain for relatives of the wall collapse victims.”It is absolutely disgusting, it’s totally unacceptable and it’s an insult to people who lost their lives,” he said.
Workers held a minute’s silence in respect of the three people killed in the Swanston St wall collapse.
Picture: Alex Coppel
“They are using this terrible tragedy for union political purposes. Dr Napthine said Victoria has the safest workplaces in Australia.”We work hard to make sure all our workplaces are safe, and WorkSafe certainly do an excellent job,” he said.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian Secretary John Setka said the “minute’s silence” was a mark of respect for the young victims.
“If we were having a rally and we didn’t go there and have a minute’s silence we’d probably be accused of being insensitive.”Mr Setka attacked the Victorian Government, saying Mr Napthine had failed to announce a hardline stance against Grocon, who were responsible for the site where the March tragedy happened.
“We’re not going to let them sweep this under the carpet,” he said to thousands of construction industry workers outside WorkSafe’s headquarters.
Setka went on to condemn WorkSafe for being too quick to clean up the site after the accident and said the authority had a lot to answer for.
Mr Setka also claimed that crane workers on the Myer Emporium site were using their phones as torches following the death of crane driver Bill Ramsey earlier this year. His family members were also among the marchers in the rally.