A bomb hoax sent to the headquarters of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in Melbourne today made threats against specific union leaders who have been locked in a bitter dispute with construction company Grocon in recent weeks.
Police were called to the union’s headquarters at 500 Swanston Street at 10am today after a letter was delivered to the union office stating that a bomb had been placed inside the building.
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New twist ... CFMEU members in the CBD last week. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
Workers were evacuated and Swanston Street was closed between Queensberry and Victoria streets while police investigated the threat.
Acting Senior Sergeant Kelvin Gale said the bomb response unit had searched the building floor-by-floor and police were satisfied the threat was a hoax.
Senior Sergeant Gale said the letter also specifically mentioned some individuals within the union who had spoken to the media during the union’s blockade of the Grocon’s Emporium site on Lonsdale Street.
He did not name who those individuals were, but The Age understands one is Bill Oliver, the state secretary of the construction division.
Swanston Street was re-opened to traffic at 1.15pm.
‘‘It was a reasonably specific information within the letter which caused us to treat it as credible,’’ Senior Sergeant Gale said.
‘‘The CFMEU and some of the identities who have been speaking to the media were mentioned specifically within the letter and I’d rather not go into greater detail at this point in time.’’
He said police would investigate who sent the letter, and anyone convicted of making a bomb hoax faced serious penalties, including possible jail time.
‘‘It’s something that really is a distraction from the bigger issues here and we’re just hoping that it doesn’t derail any of the work that’s going on behind the scenes between the CFMEU and Grocon,’’ he said.
Last Friday Bill Oliver said during a press conference he received two death threats last week through email.
‘‘That’s what happens every day of the week in this industry,’’ he said.
‘‘It shouldn’t be happening but there’s people who are out there. That’s the society we live in, that’s the world we live in, that’s what happens.’’
Mr Oliver said the union had ‘‘shrugged off’’ the emails, but had previously passed on to the police a threat that was posted to the union several months ago.
‘‘We gave that letter to the police, the police are doing their investigations,’’ he said.
Mr Oliver said last week his house had been ‘‘petrol bombed’’ and set on fire in 2004, and that the matter had been investigated by police, but ‘‘nothing came of it’’.
With Adam Cooper