CFMEU backs Vic builders with jab concerns

By Emily Woods
CFMEU boss John Setka has gone into bat for construction workers who don't want to be jabbed. (AAP)

Victoria construction workers who don't want to be vaccinated due to "genuine concerns" should be respected, a union says, after the state government triggered a jab blitz for the industry.

Treasurer Tim Pallas on Monday launched a four-week enforcement and vaccine program for the building sector and warned it might lose its exemption to keep working during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Building sites currently account for 13 per cent of the state's COVID-19 cases.

CFMEU state secretary for construction John Setka says the union is enforcing "the gold standard" at building sites.

"We realise how important we are to the economy and it's very important for us to keep working," he told Melbourne radio 3AW on Tuesday.

Asked about reports the government is considering making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for the sector, Mr Setka said people who had "genuine concerns" about the jab should be respected.

"When people have a gun held to their head and they have to have a needle and some have got genuine concerns, I think we have to respect that," he said.

Asked if the union would represent any workers stood down after declining to be vaccinated, he said: "We will take each case."

Mr Pallas has said the building industry is at a "critical juncture" and with rising case numbers it could lose its authorised worker status.

"We'll do everything we can to ensure the construction industry can continue in a COVID-safe way," he said on Monday.

"The entire industry - employers, unions - are on notice. We've had significant transmission on building sites, and we simply cannot afford not to act if that continues to grow."

Construction workers will be able to get a jab without a booking at four major vaccination centres until September 26, and 20,000 priority Pfizer vaccines made available to these workers.

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