Emergency payments for Chinese plasterers on Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment


Updated

September 07, 2018 17:59:54

Chinese workers who walked off the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) redevelopment worksite will each receive emergency payments of $2,000 after allegedly not being paid for weeks.

RHH redevelopment project director Ben Moloney said he had been advised by the project’s managing contractor John Holland/Fairbrother Joint Venture that “anomalies” in employment arrangements had impacted about 45 workers.

He said the subcontractor, Accuracy Interiors, had acknowledged anomalies.

The statement came after the CFMMEU’s Kevin Harkins said on Thursday that more than 100 Chinese visa holders employed through Accuracy Interiors had walked off the job after not being paid for up to two months, and raised concerns about living arrangements.

Mr Harkins said the foreman in charge of the workers was sent off the site on Thursday morning, and that some could be owed up to $12,000.

Mr Moloney said issues were being addressed.

“It is understood that the accommodation issues have been resolved and emergency payments of $2,000 have been initiated to each employee impacted,” Mr Moloney said.

“The RHH redevelopment project is awaiting written confirmation of these arrangements.”

Mr Moloney said payment of all outstanding entitlements was expected to be provided to the affected workers no later than Monday.

He said workers were expected to return to the site as early as today and no later than Tuesday next week.

“The managing contractor is working to have formal confirmation that these arrangements have all been resolved no later than Tuesday,” Mr Moloney said.

“Un-impacted plasterers remain on site and working on the RHH redevelopment project and the project remains on track to reach practical completion by mid-2019.”

Minister has questions to answer over timeframes: union

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O’Neil said the emergency payments did not come close to what workers were owed.

“What really needs to be resolved is that they need to be treated properly as workers,” Ms O’Neill said.

CFMMEU organiser Kevin Harkins told ABC Hobart the workers were not direct employees of Accuracy Interiors, but had instead been recruited through a labour hire arrangement and were not covered by workers’ compensation.

He said the majority of the workers appeared to be qualified, but some had no plastering experience at all and were being paid cash.

Mr Harkins said the hospital redevelopment had been struggling to find local labour.

“My understanding is that one of the reasons local contractors were not interested in pricing in the job was because of the timeframes required and they didn’t have any expectation they could get the job done within those timeframes,” Mr Harkins said.

“So maybe the Minister [Michael Ferguson] has got a little bit in this.

“It’s all nice to have a nice political story about building a new hospital but when it’s putting pressure back on contractors for timeframes that they can’t meet, then we’re going to have things like this happen.”

Mr Harkins said most of the workers were not members of the union, but have since joined the CFMMEU.

Tasmanians employed on revamp: Minister

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said there were hundreds of Tasmanians working on the project, including about 45 local plasterers.

“This project is critically important for Tasmania’s health system and we make no apologies for holding to strict timeframes so we can deliver improved hospital services, with more beds, more doctors and more nurses,” Mr Ferguson said.

Labor MP Sarah Lovell said the pressure workers were under to get the redevelopment done on time may have contributed to the problems.

However, Premier Will Hodgman said that was not the case.

“There have not been, as some suggest, unrealistic timeframes set,” he said.

“There’s certainly a degree of priority that’s been applied to this major project for our health system.”

A spokeswoman for the John Holland Fairbrother joint venture said their investigation of events was continuing.

Accuracy Interiors declined to comment.

Topics:

unions,

work,

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First posted

September 07, 2018 11:30:25



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