Police ready to end work blockade

POLICE are poised to break up a picket line hampering work on a $40 million project in Werribee, after the land's leaseholder complained about protesters preventing free access to the site.

The Federal Court is also due to hand down its decision on Thursday at 10am, which could end the blockade, now in its 10th day.

City West Water and the contractor behind the Werribee project on Wednesday held discussions with Victoria Police about removing about 40 protestors at the site's entrance.

Chief commissioner Ken Lay said police were poised to move against the protesters, who are angry the project's head contractor is using overseas workers to do some jobs.

''If there are people breaking the law and preventing access, we will take appropriate action,'' Mr Lay told Fairfax Media.

Since Saturday, contractors have used helicopters to fly workers over the protesters, to allow some work.

Central to the dispute are four Filipino workers hired on 457 visas by a contractor on site; protesters say that this work should be done by locals.

New evidence emerged on Wednesday of insults hurled at workers by protesters, with a transcript obtained by Fairfax Media showing the racist abuse levelled at the overseas workers in Spanish on Saturday.

The Fair Work Building and Construction inspectorate on Tuesday launched a Federal Court action seeking injunctions against the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, to try to end the blockade.

They are also seeking damages of more than $1.5 million. The union has denied it organised the blockade.

The extended blockade of the site is the latest in Victoria, which over the past two years has seen other picket lines shut down work at a poultry plant in Laverton North run by Baiada, at a Toll Holdings centre in Somerton, and at a brewery project in Geelong for Little Creatures beer.

The story Police ready to end work blockade first appeared on The Age.

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