Statement from Darren Greenfield, CFMEU NSW Construction Division Secretary
The partial reopening of construction in Sydney under strict Covid-safe conditions will provide relief to some in the industry but the current restrictions on workers from locked-down LGAs will affect so many construction workers that the industry will be barely able to function.
The NSW Government has taken the first step to getting the construction industry back up and running but discussions are ongoing to modify restrictions on workers in the 8 LGAs to avoid bringing the industry to its knees for the long term.
The CFMEU is working closely with the government and industry to bring in systems to allow construction workers in the in the 8 locked-down LGAs to return to work safely. At least some construction will need to be included in the list of authorised workers who can leave those LGAs.
A reopened Sydney construction industry will adopt all necessary protocols and work in close consultation with the Health Department and operate under the advice of the Chief Health Officer to allow it to remain safely open during this outbreak.
Construction is an industry that understands how to manage risk and we have proven over 16 months that we can stay safe and minimise the risk of exposure on sites.
The industry has already put in place upgraded and enhanced safety measures, including those that have been brought in over the last 16 months such as staggered start, finish and break times, social distancing on sites, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices, mandatory face masks on sites, and elevated testing regimes.
Unions and employers will need to work together to ensure the new Covid-safe industry protocols outlined by the government and health authorities are adhered to by every builder on all construction sites.
It is critically important that our members’ health and safety is protected and we will not allow any builders to take shortcuts that expose workers or the wider community to unnecessary risk.
The additional restrictions on workers and continued shutdown of construction in locked-down South-Western and Western Sydney LGAs is very hard on people and families who are already struggling. We strongly encourage any CFMEU members or their families who are experiencing mental health concerns to contact Foundation House on (02) 9810 3117 for counselling and support.
The CFMEU will continue advocating for workers in these communities and their families.