By Nicole Price
More than 100 plasterers have stopped work at the Royal Hobart Hospital construction site after questions were raised about their qualifications, visas and wages.
The CFMEU’s Kevin Harkins said 120 of the workers were Chinese visa holders employed by Melbourne company Accuracy Interiors.
He said they had not been paid for six to eight weeks.
“We found out that they hadn’t been paid for a number of weeks, so yesterday we intervened in the matter to make sure people get paid money and get paid properly,” he said.
“We’re questioning whether the visas they’ve got are correct, we’re questioning whether their wage rates are correct and all the matters that are connected with their employment.”
Mr Harkins said the foreman in charge of the workers was sent off the site this morning, and that some could be owed up to $12,000.
Kevin Harkins says the Chinese nationals haven’t been paid for up to eight weeks. (ABC News: Gregor Salmon)
Mr Harkins said about 40 Tasmanian plasterers, employed by the same company, remained on the job.
“It will obviously mean quite a few delays, the locally based employees — who are all paid correctly under a union enterprise agreement — are continuing to work, but the Chinese workers have stopped work until the mess is sorted out,” he said.
It is unclear how long the Chinese visa holders will be off work, which could cause delays for the $689 million redevelopment.
“The Victorian-based workers may well up and leave and then we’ve got an issue with not having enough people here to do the work,” Mr Harkins said.
“Once it’s resolved obviously they will have an opportunity to go back to work, but it could be a day, it could be a week, it could a month.”
Mr Harkins said he understood the workers were also finding it hard to secure long-term accommodation.
“They’ve been staying in rented houses and those rented houses appear to be no longer available, so that’s another issue we will have to look at to try and resolve,” he said.
Tasmania has been experiencing a rental crisis, with a housing boom in recent months.
The construction company in charge of the Royal Hobart Hospital’s re-development, John Holland/Fairbrother, and Accuracy Interiors have been contacted for comment.