Australia: CFMEU condemns extremist violence in Victoria

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The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) condemned in the “strongest possible terms” the violent attack by an extremist mob on its CFMEU Victorian Branch office on Tuesday, which it said was heavily infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremist groups. 

CFMEU issued the statement after a group of construction workers, whom the union said were manipulated by extremists, reportedly protested new mandatory vaccination rules for the building industry and targeted the CFMEU office. 

The violent attack forced Victoria’s construction industry to a standstill with a two-week shutdown estimated to cost more than AUD 6 billion. 

“We thank the officials, delegates and rank-and-file members of the union who came to protect their office and their officials, and note that a number of people received minor injuries from acts of violence including the throwing of bottles,” CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said. 

Noonan also thanked officials and members from other construction unions and other trade unions who stood in solidarity with them. “The union will continue to defend its members' rights to work safely across Australia and will not be intimidated from doing our job,” he said. 

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), which is closely monitoring the events, expressed its full support for the CFMEU. 

“BWI condemns this act of extremist violence against the CFMEU. It is obviously meant to intimidate democratic trade unionists from performing their jobs to keep workers healthy and safe, and divide the ranks of construction workers,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said.  

“We call on construction workers in Victoria to reject the destructive and divisive populism of neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups. The real enemy are those who deprive workers of their rights to their jobs, incomes and lives during the pandemic,” Yuson concluded. 

The building and construction industry is the fourth largest sector in Victoria, accounting for 46 percent of the state’s tax revenue and employing more than 320,000 Victorians. Projected costs of the industry shut down amount to AUD 455 million a day, and AUD 63 million in lost wages. #