The workers who put the community first

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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The workers who put the community first

In the coming weeks when the government and public ask doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health and support staff to continue to care for COVID-19-positive patients and their families, while still delivering care to non-COVID patients, think back to the behaviour of CFMEU members. They, alongside their non-union member colleagues, will stand up when asked, not chant “shut it down”. Just like they have been doing for the past 18 months.

Also, imagine if healthcare and emergency services workers demanded eight hours’ pay for six hours of work, to make up for missing a break or not being able to access their tea room. Perhaps, after the COVID-19 situation stabilises, some of the CFMEU demonstrators could shadow these workers on their rostered shift – ones that may not include a tea or meal break, might turn into a double shift and might not give workers the chance to use the toilet.

I extend my gratitude to my colleagues who keep showing up and working tirelessly, without violence, to support the needs of the Victorian community.
Caryn Auld, registered nurse, Point Cook

These protesters are thugs, not true unionists

When I saw construction workers protest over the lack of a tea room, and mandatory vaccination, I thought they were a bunch of cry babies. It made me cringe, especially when we look at the huge inroads unionists have made to bring real changes to conditions and entitlements at work – eg. an eight-hour day, the right to a tea break, the right to annual, sick and family leave, among many others.

But then I saw what has happened outside the CFMEU offices. They are no longer mere cry babies – they are selfish, ignorant thugs who bring the real union movement into disrepute. These people are not interested in collective action that benefits the whole community and which true unionists stand for.

They are the puppets of right-wingers; they want to cause division and mindless dissent, delivered through escalating violence and, at the same time, putting us all at risk through a blatant disregard for community safety in a pandemic. Solidarity, and collective action, through unionism is right and noble when it delivers benefits for everyone, including those who seek to disrupt and betray that nobility. Those out there now are not unionists.
Robyn Edwards, Chelsea

Unfair to punish majority for minority’s action

Twenty-five years ago, my son’s entire kindergarten class was punished for the action of one child. I told the teacher how appalled I was by the punishment, how undemocratic I found it and that it was probably of no pedagogic benefit. This week, hearing of the lockdown of most of the construction industry due to the irresponsible actions of a minority, I am appalled in exactly the same way.
Laurence Westcott, Frankston South

A very privileged group who wants even more

How privileged and immature construction workers look. They are lucky enough to be part of a sector that has worked throughout lockdown. The sector is renowned for getting some ridiculously lucrative “rights” when compared with the rest of us, but they do not want to take on the responsibility of being vaccinated and they are in tears over not having tea rooms.

Some say they are scared of putting something “experimental” in their bodies, as if the average construction worker treats their body as a temple and 2.5billion of us around the world who are fully vaccinated are somehow the ignorant ones. Laughable.
Jane Levin, Mount Martha

Remember the COVID-19 patients in ICU

Who do they think they are? Despite much of the workforce being unable to work, construction workers have been able to, often not adhering to the COVID-19 safety rules. So they think they are hard done by because they are not permitted to mix in tea rooms, further spreading this disease. They should think about the patients on ventilators in intensive care units.
Ralph Wildenberg, Wheelers Hill


Protecting all workers

I am confused by construction workers’ outrage at not being able to share a tea room with co-workers during a pandemic and being asked to be vaccinated.

I always thought they were very concerned with occupational health and safety issues in the workplace. After all, strong unions have given us most of the rights to working in a healthy and safe environment. (This is one of the reasons why I have supported the union movement.)

I hope that all Victorian workplaces, including the construction industry, regard vaccination as an essential part of their occupational health and safety policy so that the rest of us can all get back to work too.
Tricia O’Brien, hospitality worker, Ventnor

A campaign to destroy

The “incidents” outside the CFMEU’s offices had all the hallmarks of orchestrated trouble by non-unionists. Anti-union forces are well organised within Australia in an ongoing campaign to destroy successful trade unions, many from within.
Ken McLeod, Williamstown

Shameful behaviour

Despite being fully vaccinated, I have a renewed fear of clots after seeing the disgraceful behaviour of that entitled mob at the offices of the CFMEU. They have been able to work throughout the pandemic and are refusing to help the rest of the community overcome this pressing issue. I am, not for the first time, dismayed by my fellow human beings’ behaviour.
John Paine, Kew East

Reaping what you sow

The CFMEU in Victoria has trained its members by example to protest in a violent and unlawful manner and this has come back to bite it. Unfortunately, it has resulted in the closure of most of the construction industry, with many of its workers not CFMEU members. Yet again, the CFMEU is harming the Victorian economy.
Andrew Lee, Anglesea

Deny them treatment …

Doctors and nurses in full personal protective equipment are working long hours in COVID-19 wards, caring for the unvaccinated and putting themselves and their families at risk of contacting the virus. Meanwhile the unvaccinated are demanding their freedom as they fight the police who are attempting to protect all of us. When the “non vax, no service” rule is introduced, should hospitals apply the same rules – “non vax, no treatment”?
Lorna Chapman, Blairgowrie

… or make them pay for it

The sooner we move to a “user pays” health system, the sooner the herd will be thinned of those who choose to undertake lifestyle choices which are counter to preventing illness. When patients know they will have to pay for the ventilators and their time in intensive care units, they will agree to be vaccinated.
Mark Mocicka, St Kilda East

Rewards for vaccination

It seems unjust that those who have been fully vaccinated (and tend to obey the rules) are being limited in their freedoms by those who are unwilling or hesitant to be protected. The rollout restricted some age groups earlier but now every over-12 is eligible.

The government should allow businesses whose staff are fully vaccinated to open up to any customers who are also fully vaccinated. This would allow some parts of the economy to begin the return to “normal” more quickly instead of waiting for the slowest to comply. A vaccination certificate recorded on phones can verify the status of customers.
John Bartak, Mont Albert

Unfair pressure on staff

While I support the need for a two-tier approach to reopening businesses, I wonder how the front-of-house staff at Bunnings, Woolies or the local pizza joint will manage refusing entry to those unvaccinated people who believe they are entitled to enter. Some of those anti-vaxxers will be very angry and I am glad it will not be my job to refuse them entry.
Peter Ratcliff, Parkdale

Why the delay, Premier?

As a health worker, I am perplexed that Daniel Andrews and his government have yet to announce mandatory vaccination for all health workers, as have most of his counterparts in other states.
The science tells us, and he continues to tell us, that we should not be exposing our most vulnerable patients to unvaccinated staff. Surely these include the sick who are coming through our hospital doors.

Could it be he does not want the showdown with these unionised workforces? Too hot to handle? Most patients would be appalled to know they are pawns in this deadly game.
Dr Debbie Kesper, Bendigo

Checking guests’ status

If we are allowed up to 30 people (no vaccination status yet mandated) over for Christmas celebrations, can we please have COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits available to purchase and give as pre-Christmas gifts?
Kerry Landman, Alphington

Different jobs and genders

To point out the obvious, the majority of healthcare workers are female. They have been working under hard conditions and putting up with it. The majority of construction workers are male, and have not been doing the right thing and are now acting like children.
Gero Gardener, Inverloch

Consultation deficit

This absence of meaningful consultation, especially with Australia’s Pacific neighbours, but also with the French, on the new submarine deal reveals a shocking absence of thought about implications for our region, strategic thinking and historical context, to mention only a few. Did Scott Morrison just think it was “a good idea at the time”?
Eve Stocker, Carlton North

The PM’s double standard

If she does not want to step aside, “she can go”, Scott Morrison yelled in Parliament. After all, “she” (Christine Holgate) had handed out a few Cartier watches as bonuses to her managers at Australia Post. But Christian Porter, who accepted a “chaff bag full of cash”, as Malcolm Turnbull put it (The Age, 15/9), from an unknown source can rest on the backbench until he comes back to the frontbench. Oh, we know he will be back because Barnaby Joyce, our illustrious acting Prime Minister, tells us so (The Age, 21/9). A dash of misogyny mixed with your arrogance, Prime Minister
Ron Burrows, Sunshine

Give it away, Mr Porter

It is no use asking Christian Porter to return the money if he does not know where it came from. Perhaps he should donate it to a worthy charity or the ABC.
Wal Grahame, Mordialloc

An impossible position

Christian Porter’s demotion to the backbench is an inadequate response from our Prime Minister in dealing with an evident governance issue. If Mr Porter wishes to stay in the Parliament, he should decline the donation in the blind trust. Alternatively, should he wish to accept it, then he must stand down and allow for a byelection to take place. The lack of transparency looms large at present and with it the risk of an elected public official being compromised down the track.
Jan van de Graaff, Brunswick East

Putting our climate first

Will the Prime Minister be acting in “our strategic national interest”, as well as those of AUKUS allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, when he attends the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November?
Harry Zable, Campbells Creek

Tighten up the ’standards’

How can Christian Porter be in the wrong, since his unbiased colleagues assured us it was “all within the rules”? It looks like a case of trial by pub test, and the ministerial standards need amending.
John O’Hara, Mount Waverley

Humour and information

Jack Latimore’s article – “A New Hope: The Blak force reawakens (The Age, 21/6) – was a breath of fresh air in the ever-present issue of the racial divide between First Nations people and non-First Nations people in Australia. Exceptionally insightful, laced with humour and clearly appealing to our best natures, it was a delightful explainer. More please, Mr Latimore. Your articulate prose is invitingly informative.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown

Let the family stay

I am alive today because, in 1939, the Australian government accepted me and my family despite our being deemed enemy aliens and the job for which my father came being no longer available. We did not know then the extent of the murderous development of the Holocaust that would have been our fate as recognised Jews.

Today we do know that the fate of the two daughters of the Murugappan family will be at best to be separated from their parents while the parents undertake re-education if deported back to Sri Lanka. At worst, they will become orphans (Australian Story, 20/9).

Is it more important for the government to save face and hold onto its intransigent position than re-look at this family’s fate? Is it so difficult to let them stay and return to Biloela where they have become a loved and contributing part of the community? I also believe people smugglers are well aware of the “turn back boats” policy that has stopped their trade in its tracks.
Joan Lynn, Williamstown

Please, media, wear a vest

I commiserate with The Age photographer who was mistaken for a protester and capsicum-sprayed by police on the weekend. Ouch. Surely The Age could supply their reporters with vests clearly marked “Media”, along with their accreditation, and so avoid confusion with protesters.
Shaun Lawrence, Richmond

A lure for the jab

Entitled, angry young men. Tell them they will not be allowed into pubs to get their VB beer unless they are vaccinated. That will get them rolling up their sleeves.
Julie Perry, Highton



Tattooed men suffering trypanophobia (fear of needles).
David Blom, Nunawading

John Setka and the CFMEU get a dose of their own medicine.
Graham Cadd, Dromana

Some construction workers have hammered, drilled and sawn off their noses to spite their faces.
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne

Were those protesters the same people who “kept the whole class in” when we were at school?
Narelle Walker, Glen Waverley

So those big, burly construction boys are afraid of teensy weensy needles? Poor diddums.
Doug Clark, Hampton

On Friday there could be a parade of the CFMEU and the CFMEU.
Richard Sykes, Bell Park

It may be your CFMEU but it’s not your city. You share it with 5million other people and have a responsibility to them.
Mary Wise, Ringwood

Daniel is punching above his weight.
Lesley Black, Frankston

Show 7.30’s story (20/9) on COVID-19 patients in an ICU to the mob demonstrating for “freedom” from mandated vaccination.
John Kelly, Hawthorn

To identify the external troublemakers among the builders, check out those who aren’t wearing safety boots.
Rilke Muir, Kensington


Memo to Morrison, Dutton and Payne: Trust takes years to build but seconds to destroy.
Andrew Hewett, Brunswick

Have Morrison and Dutton modelled their Chinese diplomacy on the Black Knight’s fight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail?
Hugh Bourke, Mount Martha

Poor old Barnaby. Having to defend the indefensible Christian Porter.
Lou Ferrari, Richmond

Please don’t tell me that Joyce fellow is in charge while what’s his name is out of the country.
Peter Long, Mornington

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