Statement in support of CFMMEU Victoria

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) condemns the violent attack on the CFMEU office in Melbourne this week. We extend our support to John Setka, State Secretary of the CFMEU Victoria Branch, Union officials, delegates, and members who were affected by the attack.

The attack was orchestrated by far-right extremists who targeted the union. Whilst there were Union members involved many of the protestors have been identified as members of alt-right, white supremacist, and extreme anti-vaccine groups.

“The attack on the CFMEU office was orchestrated by far-right extremist groups, many of which are said to have links to neo-Nazi groups. The ETU absolutely supports the right for people to hit the streets and protest, sometimes civil disobedience is necessary to deliver change but to do it under false pretense and to attack a Union and its members property is something that the Trade Union movement will not tolerate. It was a baseless and completely misdirected attack on a union that delivers outcomes for its members – the protest wasn’t about the union,” says ETU State Secretary Peter Ong.

“These rallies and protests are due to Scott Morrison’s inability to make the COVID vaccine available to Australians, plain and simple. If we’d had the right number of vaccines, the lockdown could have extended only until the time we had 80% of the population vaccinated.

“Every worker affected by lockdown would have been on JobKeeper, and we could have hit the 80% vaccinated target while workers were supported financially. Many workers in affected areas are facing a very real financial threat, and the Morrison government has a lot to answer for.

“There’s no need for vaccine mandates. Most people are or have been keen to get the jab. Almost 10 million Australians are fully vaccinated already, and even more have had one dose. We can get to the 80% vaccinated targets without mandates, and respect the people who have genuine concerns about the vaccine.

Many mainstream media outlets showed a skewed representation of the protests at the CFMEU office, claiming it was orchestrated and attended by unhappy union members. Many sources have found this not to be the case. Screenshots have come to light showing protest organisers encouraged attendees to ‘dress like tradies,’ in high-vis vests and hard hats.

“Throughout History we have seen the Trade Union Movement lead the way when rebuilding after Global crisis, Pandemics and conflicts, if workers in this country believe it won’t be the Trade Union movement doing the heavy lifting out of this pandemic they’re kidding themselves. The union movement is part of the solution and a steadfast and strong voice for workers.

“We stand with our comrades at the CFMMEU. CFMMEU officials are staunch advocates for their members, and fight tirelessly for worker’s rights. Their members are strong unionists. The attack was not in solidarity with members, it was not fighting for workers’ rights, and it was not union,” says Peter Ong.