Following yesterday’s announcement from the Premier about further restrictions on the construction industry, we have been working around the clock to gain some clarity for members.
Our Client Services Officers, Annie Kessell & Shiga Chakkiath, together with myself; have fielded many emails and calls today in an effort to assist with your many enquiries. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of detail on many critical issues. As soon as that detail is available, we will provide further information.
We have attended briefings with senior leaders of the industry, engaged with Ministers and also made a joint submission to the Premier, Minister for Health and Chief Health Officer late today. The following is an update of issues and actions as we know at this stage:
- Mandatory vaccinations for construction workers (single dose) will be required by next Thursday. This requirement has the effect of superseding last week’s announcement that our industry can return to 50 per cent capacity when we hit a 90 per cent vaccination rate. As yet, there is no clear roadmap or commitment from Government about when our industry can increase worksite capacity, or what factors will be considered when the Government makes a decision.
- It is not clear what onus will be placed on employers to ensure people on site are vaccinated – we anticipate that it may be that sighting a workers’ vaccination history on a Medicare/MyGov app will be sufficient but this is not yet confirmed.
- Medical exemptions will apply to the requirement to be vaccinated. Details are yet to be published but they will be based on current aged-care protocols
10km Travel Limit (for construction workers – metro Melbourne)
We received many queries on whether construction workers can travel more than 10 kms for work.
The table of restrictions published yesterday were confusing. Some read this table as stating that authorised workers could not travel more than 10km from their residence for any purpose, even for authorised work. The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) conceded this was poorly worded and will be corrected. Authorised workers can continue to travel from home to a worksite anywhere in metropolitan Melbourne or regional Victoria (outside of Ballarat). They just cannot cross between metropolitan and regional areas.
An updated Table of Restrictions is attached – CLICK HERE.
Ban on Team Rooms (includes Crib Rooms & Lunch Rooms).
You will see plenty of media reports on this issue tonight due to the actions of the CFMEU, but despite significant questioning on how the ban on tea rooms will apply, no clear answers have been provided. There are questions as to how this ban interacts with an employer’s obligation to provide these facilities under enterprise bargaining arrangements and general OHS requirements.
Ban on crossing (between metro-Melbourne & regional Victoria)
The ban on crossing between metropolitan and regional areas will apply in both directions.
DJPR confirmed that the supply of materials to site can still occur across those borders, but not labour.
We understand and acknowledge that this restriction places significant constraints on our members capacity to keep construction sites open and have made this point direct to the Premier and the Chief Health Officer in our submission today and in our discussions with select Minister’s.
- CCF Victoria supports mandatory vaccinations for workers in the building & construction industry and is advocating for this to be included in the Public Health Directions.
- Despite significant questioning on how the ban on tea rooms will apply, no clear answers have been provided. There are questions as to how this ban interacts with an employer’s obligation to provide these facilities under enterprise bargaining arrangements and general OHS requirements.
- Removing regional-based key personnel from our workforce significantly compromises civil and infrastructure sites, and in most cases, will result in these sites having to be closed to all construction workers.
- We have made direct approaches to the Premier and the Chief Health Officer today on this restriction to our industry.
- In our submission, we have re-iterated that a “blanket restriction” on construction workers crossing between metropolitan and regional areas will create a range of production related issues with significant impacts on the Victorian economy, Government infrastructure projects and housing supply, primarily on account of workforce management.
- A blanket ban, without consideration of the issues set out above, will have enormous economic consequences, as set out below:
Impact on Government Infrastructure Projects
- Sites such Westgate Tunnel and Metro Rail rely on regional workers in key roles.
Impact on Customer
- Extra rent and extra interest on block and portion of drawdowns already made.
- Customers may lose accommodation in circumstances in which they have given notice.
- Thousands of Homebuilder Grant Customers will have this stimulus jeopardised – many of whom are relying upon this to contribute towards the cost of the home.
- People who get stood down in the construction industry will have their mortgages at risk.
- Industrial greenfield sites being delayed, jeopardising investment.
Impact on Tradespeople
- Many of our members in land development engage contractors, up to 50% of whom travel across metro/regional boundaries each day. These contractors are small businesses that will not be permitted to work or earn an income for an indefinite period of time. None of the State Government’ financial support goes close to compensating these families.
- Many trades are already financially stretched due to timber delays and supply chain issues. Some are requiring part payments already to keep them afloat, given they haven’t had continuity of work.
Impact on Suppliers
- Builders will simply stop ordering from suppliers. There is no reason why a builder will order $25,000 worth of frames and trusses per home when a trade is unable to visit a site to erect them and the builder cannot receive a progress payment. One of our builder members estimates this will cost $5m per month for its business alone.
- We are seeking a balanced and common sense approach. The Government’s focus must be on how to manage this workforce between regional and metropolitan Melbourne to ensure that works continue safely in a sector critical to the Victorian economy.
- CCF Victoria recommend that construction workers and mobile plant operators on greenfield sites be permitted to cross between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria provided:
- Bubble arrangements are in place and these workers only travel between their place of residence and place of work;
- They have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine; and
- The work remains subject to all other COVIDSafe practices and directions.
We will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf in positioning and seeking clarification on the key issues and challenges impacting on our industry and await the release of the Public Health Directions for more detail.https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19