Union leaders and Grocon are set to meet tomorrow, as construction workers continue to block workers’ access to the Emporium construction site in Melbourne.
Members of the Construction, Foresty, Mining and Energy Union have been at the Grocon site for a week, with violent scenes erupting yesterday in the city’s CBD between protesters – who have workplace safety concerns – and police.
Today, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced he has ”brokered” private discussions between the warring parties.
He said Grocon head Daniel Grollo and the CFMEU Construction Division’s Dave Noonan had agreed to ”make themselves available” to meet on Thursday.
”The government is concerned about the dispute between Grocon and the CFMEU and the ugly scenes witnessed in recent days,” the Workplace Relations Minister said.
Yesterday, the Victorian Supreme Court extended an injunction restraining the CFMEU from blocking access to Grocon sites – which it has ignored. Mr Shorten has refused to pick a side in the debate, but has strongly condemned any violent activity.
”There can be no excuse for intimidation, violence and thuggery,” he said.
”I would expect the CFMEU to respect and comply with orders of the Victorian Supreme Court.”
Mr Shorten said that he believed the workplace safety matters underlying the Grocon and CFMEU dispute would be best resolved by conciliation.
”That is why I brokered private discussions between the parties on Monday this week,” Mr Shorten said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also weighed in on the dispute, warning violence should never be tolerated.
“Violence is always wrong in whatever setting,” Ms Gillard told reporters shortly after touching down in Cook Islands for a meeting of Pacific leaders.
But she warned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s promise to bring back the building commission would be a backwards step.
“As a result of that people would see penalty rates end,” she said, also warning about the re-introduction of individual contracts.
with AAP, Daniel Flitton
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