Companies use virus excuse to avoid paying dues
SOME businesses are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to rip off tradies, warns Subbies United spokesman John Goddard.
An advocate for tradies, Mr Goddard said he was aware of a number of business shutting up shop amid the confusion surrounding lockdowns and restrictions, and failing to pay subcontractors.
"It is a really big problem," Mr Goddard said.
"They are using coronavirus as an excuse to liquidate their business. They say it is going into a 'hibernation' and then just don't get back to anyone.
"There is a lot of this going on the Gold Coast."
Mr Goddard said he had heard from members on the Gold Coast who were seeing early signs of financial mismanagement before the pandemic, only to have projects fold "due to COVID-19" weeks later.
"One company had their business licence suspended in early March, but workers were instead told the site had to be shut down because of the virus," he said.
"Now no one is being paid and they are not contactable.
"Subbies are stepping away from sites in good faith they can return, only to find out down the track that it is not possible."
Mr Goddard urged the State Government to pursue their policy of establishing project bank accounts to ensure money to pay subbies could be held in trust while projects were being completed.
"People are being taken advantage of at the moment. You see the emails dripping with good intentions around coronavirus safety but really it seems to be a get-out-of-jail-free card,'' he said.
Mr Goodard said the impact on the construction industry was a sign of devastation to come, with expectations of a downturn in coming months.
"It seems to me some companies are setting themselves up for a fall, by off-loading workers under the guise of coronavirus," he said.
"This will be worse than what the global financial crisis was.
"The Government needs to get people back and working but also hold these people to account."
Originally published as Companies use virus excuse to avoid paying dues