22 September 2021

Luke Hilakari, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council: “Whether it’s to protect yourself, your workmates, or your customers or clients, Victorian workers are pretty familiar with the concept of donning personal protective equipment for safety. … And, as at the time of writing, more than two million Victorian workers have rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some workers, and some unionists, have their hesitations about getting the COVID vaccine. I get that. But COVID-19 is a serious health risk to Victorian workplaces, and we have a responsibility as a movement to encourage our members to do whatever keeps you and your co-workers safe. … For a long time, getting certain vaccinations has been a requirement in some jobs. This is no different. Throughout this pandemic we have followed the advice of the Chief Health Officer and the public health team, and the work those officials are doing is in the public interest. … We absolutely understand that this is a complex issue and a lot of people have strong opinions. But we are not going to let a tiny minority of anti-vaccination members put the rest of the workforce at risk. Nor will we be intimidated by neo-Nazis in construction cosplay turning up at our offices, trying to force their extreme views on our movement and undo the heroic work of Victorians who have kept this virus at bay for almost two years. We are interested in the genuine concerns of our members — and we want to hear them. We are not interested in conspiracies stirred up by neo-Nazis here and abroad. We listen to the thousands of frontline workers, public health experts and scientists who have experienced the impact of COVID and are charting our way out of it. Keeping union members healthy and safe at work will always be our priority.”