“Acknowledge the privileges given to those of us who can still work, and if you can’t sit with your friends while you have a sandwich, it doesn’t seem like a huge burden,” Weimar said.
Mr Weimar said tea rooms pose a significant risk of transmission as workers come from different parts of the city, sit in a small space, and eat and drink. The number of cases from the Panorama construction site at Box Hill rose to more than 140 this week, making it one of the most significant recent outbreaks in the state.
The “no jab no job” rules will apply from next Friday to all employees who have not received at least one first dose of vaccine.
On Friday afternoon, the two main construction unions, the CFMEU and the Australian Workers Union, met with the Andrews government to express their opposition to closing tearooms on major construction sites and introducing mandatory vaccinations.
Victorian CFMEU secretary John Setka claimed the action was “not really a protest” and workers on major construction sites had nowhere else to take their breaks.
“If we can’t sit in the smoko shed, where do we take our break? So they put all the tables and chairs in the fresh air, ”Mr Setka told 3AW on Friday morning. “You don’t have your Smoko anywhere else.”
At a multiplex location on Lonsdale Street, about 150 vendors set up tables and lit a barbecue, forcing traffic to circumvent the area for about 20 minutes. Police surrounded the peaceful protest to prevent it from expanding and blocking traffic elsewhere.
A man told Age he expected the protest to continue on Monday because the construction workers had nowhere else to enjoy their breaks without a tea room.
Phil Dwyer is the builder and national president of Builders Collective, a lobby group for small and medium-sized construction companies. He praised the state government’s mandatory vaccination decision.
Mr Dwyer said many in the industry are not taking COVID-19 seriously enough. “Unless it directly affects these guys on construction sites, just take the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. Half of them do not want to be vaccinated; the talk is generally that nothing has been proven. “
He said construction workers need to be vaccinated, both for their own safety and for their own safety. “You will be one of the weakest – let’s face it, a hell of a lot of people in the construction industry are overweight and have a poor diet.”
But Mr Dwyer predicted that the mandatory vaccine route would make little difference. “Nobody is going to check this, and while it might be mandatory, how are they going to monitor it? They won’t. “