Protesters leave Melbourne site
Fri, 31 Aug 2012 11:08a.m.
By 3 News online staff
Hundreds of demonstrators have left a Melbourne construction site after police in riot gear moved in early this morning over fears industrial protests could get out of hand.
Talks between construction company Grocon and the Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) broke down late last night, and police moved onto the site in the central business district around 3am local time.
At least 100 officers, including the riot squad and mounted police, are standing guard at the site behind a wire fence that was erected early morning, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Police have closed several streets in the surrounding area.
Around 500 construction workers have returned to resume their protest this morning, and it’s reported that hundreds more may be heading to the area.
Workers have been blockading the site of the AU$250 million Emporium Melbourne project for the last 10 days.
The CFMEU is demanding better access to Grocon’s construction projects, to inspect what it believes are safety concerns.
Workers say they are also protesting against Grocon bringing in interstate labour to reduce pay rates and working conditions.
Their picket line is in breach of an order from the Supreme Court of Victoria. The court has been told the picket is costing Grocon, Australia’s largest privately owned development and construction company, up to $370,000 a day.
Australia’s workplace relations tribunal, Fair Work Australia (FWA), last night recommended a two week “cooling-off period”, which would have seen CFMEU members return to work while talks continued. But Grocon rejected the proposal, its chief executive Daniel Grollo saying it was “totally unacceptable” that the blockade would only be lifted temporarily.
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