Federal Labor has announced a Tradie Pay Guarantee to protect sub-contractors working on Government projects from being left unpaid when dodgy businesses go bust.
Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has today said the inaction by the Liberal Government in this issue has left many local tradies out of pocket and close to bankruptcy.
“This type of dodgy behaviour is rife in the Central Victorian construction industry.”
“I meet too many small businesses in the construction industry who have not been paid on time, or at all,” Chesters said.
In 2015, sub-contractors and their workers walked off the job during the construction of Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre over a pay dispute.
A similar story unfolded in 2016 during the Bendigo Hospital build, when a plastering company went into administration, leaving many workers unpaid.
“Whether it be concreters, electricians or builders, many small businesses will pay their workers only to not be paid themselves,” Chesters said.
“Many do not pursue the issue in court because the costs involved could be higher than the original debt – it’s a broken system.”
- Establish a new requirement for large Commonwealth construction projects that would see project bank accounts established that use cascading statutory trusts, ensuring that all businesses down the supply chain involved get paid on time.
- Develop a national framework to ensure that no sub-contractors or small businesses are left out of pocket as a result of dodgy “phoenix activity”.
- Work with the states and territories to harmonise schemes across the country where possible, including consulting on the referral of powers to the federal program. This would apply to a broader range of construction activity.
- Create a $7 million Tradie Litigation Fund for subbies to access justice and see regulators take dodgy bosses to court and win.
Only a Labor Government will protect the livelihoods of small businesses, workers and subcontractors who fall victim to dodgy building bosses and ensure perpetrators face their day in court.
The new $7 million Tradie Litigation Fund will give the Australian Securities and Investments Commission the ability to run more difficult court cases without draining the corporate watchdog’s resources.
Not only will this give tradies their day in court, it will also act both as a punishment and deterrent for dodgy directors. People who deliberately burn their companies should be subject to the full consequences of failing directors’ duties, including being liable for compensation, fines of up to $200,000 or five years behind bars.
“These measures will help protect local jobs, tradies and the economy,” Chesters said.
“It’s time the Liberal Government stopped going soft on corporate crooks, and adopted Labor’s plans to crack down on dodgy phoenix activity.
Labor believes in the principle that for a fairs days work, you should receive a fair days pay.
“Whether you’re a worker or a small business; you do the work, you should get paid,” Chesters said.