Tradesmen have been among the hardest hit by Victoria’s second coronavirus lockdown, with an estimated 13,000 of them losing their jobs across July and August.
A report released by consulting firm Taylor Fry revealed that employment levels across all industries in Victoria had fallen by 7.7 per cent since March when the pandemic began in Australia.
Construction held up comparatively well during the initial lockdown, with employment dropping by 4.5 per cent.
But new figures show the industry plunged by almost seven per cent during the second wave, with Victoria now under draconian restrictions that have severely cut activity on building sites.
Construction workers build a new park in the central business district in Melbourne on August 6, before strict limits were imposed by the state government
New figures show the construction industry plunged by almost seven per cent during the second wave. Pictured: construction workers in Melbourne in August
Taylor Fry principal Alan Greenfield told the Australian Financial Review that the nosedive is due to tougher restrictions.
‘Pre-pandemic, construction jobs accounted for about nine per cent of all jobs in Victoria, making it the state’s fourth-largest employer,’ Mr Greenfield said.
‘The closure of hardware stores and restriction on the number of workers allowed on work sites is taking its toll.’
Peter Temopoulos, general manager of building and operations at Metricon Homes in Victoria, said initial restrictions only allowed workers to visit one construction site per week during lockdowns.
While that was increased to three sites per week after severe lobbying by the sector, the company is still limited to five on-site workers at any one time for small residential builds.
Initial restrictions only allowed workers to visit one construction site per week during lockdowns. Pictured: A construction worker wearing a face mask on July 22 in Melbourne
‘For small-scale construction, they could be down to ten per cent capacity. If you were doing 20 sites per week … and they can only do three, you’re impacted greatly,’ Mr Temopoulos said.
The capacity restrictions were imposed in early August, leaving tradesmen across the state fearful about their mortgages and providing for their families.
‘I’ve got no job on Monday, we’ll see how it goes… I’ve got a mortgage, kids, the whole lot’ one tradie told A Current Affair.
Project supervisor Lee, 26, (pictured) bought his own home and said he has no idea if he’ll even be able to eat after paying for his mortgage
One tradesmen (pictured) said he had no job due to the 25 per cent rule and has no idea how he will pay his mortgage or feed his children
‘The big dog upstairs [Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews] just letting us down once again, he’s useless.’
Project supervisor Lee, 26, recently purchased his own home but has now had his hours cut back drastically and has been forced to turn to JobKeeper.
‘I might not be able to eat after I pay my mortgage, I’ve got a car I pay for as well,’ he said.
‘Very stressful, lots of sleepless nights and I’m not the only one I’m sure of it.’
Master Builders Victoria chief executive Rebecca Casson said the on-site limitations resulted in extensive job losses.
‘Our industry accounts for 45 per cent of the state’s tax revenue so this scaling back with have an impact on our community,’ she said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured during a press conference) acknowledged he was asking for a heavy sacrifice form the state’s people
Upon announcing the tough restrictions on construction, Mr Andrews acknowledged he was asking for a heavy sacrifice from the state’s people.
‘Our construction sector, the lifeblood of our economy, will also move to pilot light levels,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘This will allow the industry to keep ticking — while also making sure we limit the number of people onsite.’
Premier Andrews had refused to provide a pathway out of Stage 4 lockdown when the six-week period expires, with industry fears it may be extended.
What Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown means for you
State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issued, only $1,652 fines or court summons
Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 6am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising
Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home
Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day. Kicking a ball around is ok but not tennis, fishing, golf, boating
Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away
Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day
Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc
Schools: All students learning from home from Wednesday unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare close on Thursday (same exceptions apply)
Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one
Weddings: Completely banned
Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night