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The Project's Waleed Aly has slammed the violent protests that erupted on the streets of Melbourne in the last few days, with thousands of angry protesters clashing with police, damaging property and assaulting reporters.
While union bosses have claimed most people taking part in the protests were "fake tradies" and "far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists" who are opposing mandatory Covid vaccinations on worksites, however, Waleed wasn't having any of it on Tuesday night.
Speaking with Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus, Waleed questioned whether there was a deeper problem with the construction industry given the fact they have been largely allowed to operate during lockdowns while many others were forced to close without violent protests.
"The whole attitude seems weird," he said. "You have this protest that emerges out of nowhere because tea rooms are being shut down, which doesn't seem to acknowledge that there is a huge amount of privilege that the construction industry has enjoyed just by being allowed to stay open."
Ms McManus shared that union leaders are "worried" about the issue of anti-vax conspiracy theories, suggesting 10 per cent of the workforce are hesitant about the vaccine.
"There's been an active targeting of unions (by conspiracy theory groups) and what that has done is increased the number of people who are hesitant about the vaccine," she said. "We have been really focused on those people. We do not want them caught up with the anti-vaxxers and as a result leaving themselves exposed to this deadly virus."
The construction industry in Victoria was put on notice for non-compliance last week, before mandatory vaccination saw protests yesterday escalate, with a sector-wide shutdown. Today, the streets of Melbourne again looked like a war zone. #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/GSU8n60qAU
— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 21, 2021
He continued, "We (the entertainment industry) are an industry that is allowed to stay open, but the attitude in a place like this seems totally different to the things we are seeing in the construction industry.
In Victoria, 403 active Covid cases are linked to 186 construction sites, with officials worried the industry isn't taking the virus seriously.
"There are quite a lot of industries open with Covid-safe plans but the level of transmission and the compliance issues that the Victorian Government have identified simply aren't being identified in these other places," Walled continued.
"What is it particularly that makes the construction industry so recalcitrant on this?"
Ms McManus said "to be fair" the further you are from health care or aged care industries the less likely you are to probably understand the reality of how dangerous and deadly the virus is.
She also explained why the recent ban of tea rooms in order to stop the virus from spreading, has been such a sore point for tradies.
"Culturally for the construction industry, they had to fight for ages to get lunch rooms and then all of a sudden you turn up one day and you can't use your lunchroom. They are already at 25 per cent capacity (under Covid restrictions), already have the social distancing, et cetera, et cetera."
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