John Holland sacks subcontractor after alleged $1m underpayment to workers
Summary: THE Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment’s managing contractor has terminated its agreement with subcontractor Accuracy Interiors after the latter business failed to prove it was solvent.....
The business has been accused of underpaying plasterers working on the RHH project for the past nine weeks, with the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union estimating workers were owed a total $1 million.
The CFMEU said 130 workers — 100 foreign nationals and 30 Tasmanians — had withdrawn their labour in response to the underpayment.
The overseas workers were now homeless after being booted from their accommodation by Accuracy Interiors’ “gang boss”.
Managing contractor John Holland-Fairbrother said it was on the hunt for a replacement subcontractor after terminating its agreement with Accuracy Interiors today.
“Our priority at the moment is the wellbeing of workers impacted by Accuracy Interiors’ failure to pay, and ensuring those workers have continuing employment with a new contractor,” a spokeswoman said.
“On top of our existing contact requirements, we are proactively auditing every subcontractor employed on the project to ensure every one of their workers is receiving the pay and benefits they are entitled to.”
Plasterer Zhihui Zhu estimated he was owed more than $14,000 after going without pay for eight weeks.
The Chinese national, paid only for his first fortnight of work, was one of dozens of workers to receive a $2000 emergency payment last week.
“I’m very sad,” he said, adding he would likely return to Victoria unless he was properly paid.
Zhihui Zhou is one of the workers who hasn't been adequately paid while working on the RHH. Picture: SUPPLIED
CFMEU Victoria-Tasmania assistant secretary Shaun Reardon said the situation was “outrageous”.
“This is exploitation. This is slave labour,” he said.
“The CFMEU told John Holland about this and the company four weeks ago.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the $689 million redevelopment remained on track for completion mid-2019 and expressed his “full confidence” in John-Holland Fairbrother.
“Are you seriously suggesting we change the builder one year away from completion,” he said.
RHH redevelopment project director Ben Moloney said responsibility for workers’ payment lay with the managing contractor.
“The failure of these workers being paid is a matter that is solely the responsibility of the subcontractor that employed them, and our expectation is that our managing contractor will evaluate and determine the balance of outstanding entitlements and ensure that those are paid,” Mr Moloney said.
“Our expectation is [workers] will be paid as a matter of urgency.”
Accuracy Interiors declined to comment.