This morning a number of medics from Melbourne Street Medic Collective attended the East-West Tunnel community picket of Lend Lease in Docklands in order to support and assist picketers. Lend Lease is being targeted as one of the fore-runners in the bidding process to build the East-West tunnel link. We have supported this campaign as individuals and as a collective for some time and plan to continue this support into the future.
This morning’s action was notable for the level of brutality and violence employed by Victoria Police against picketers. At last week’s picket, organisers arranged to allow non-Lend Lease workers to enter the building after showing ID, and a similar proposal was raised today. However, Victoria Police – seemingly reeling from the positive media coverage generated by last week’s picket – refused to allow this, and instead chose to use workers (mostly from Fujitsu) as tools to create violence and negative press coverage.
Instead of allowing small groups of workers to enter the building calmly and safely, Victoria Police used several members of the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to break through the community picket and violently thrust workers into the building, while causing distress and injury to those on the picket. Victoria Police did not merely play a passive response to non-Lend Lease employees’ desires to enter the building: on a number of occasions, Victoria Police officers were seen chasing after workers who had decided not to cross the picket line in order to convince them to change their mind and provide another opportunity to inflict violence upon the peaceful picketers.
As a result of Victoria Police’s actions we were required to provide care for a number of injuries. These included minor injuries (cuts and scratches) as well as more serious ones: one person reported an injured shoulder, another received treatment for a sprained ankle. Two people were offered treatment after having their legs trampled and pinned by police and another received treatment for a head injury.
As well as providing care for injuries we provided water and rescue remedy to keep picketers hydrated and in good spirits and we can happily report that the mood was definitely positive.
It cannot be said more clearly that our need to provide medical care stemmed directly from Victoria Police’s decision to employ violence as a tactic to break the community picket. As was acknowledged in the debriefing session after the picket this morning, the Napthine Government’s use of violence to oppose the tunnel picket campaign is proof of their lack of solid justification for the project. The cynical use of workers as collateral in the attempt to destroy the tunnel picket campaign can only be condemned and shows that Victoria Police and the Napthine Government will go to great lengths to ensure this project will continue: even placing the safety of Victorians in jeopardy.