Life’s a ball for road work­ers

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - KEELY McDONOUGH & JANET FIFE-YEOMANS

WORK­ERS on bil­lion-dol­lar state in­fra­struc­ture projects which have brought the cen­tre of Syd­ney to a grind­ing halt are get­ting about $35 an hour to smoke, text, lounge on kerbs and even bounce ten­nis balls.

A special investigation by The Daily Tele­graph has also caught high-vis clad em­ploy­ees flout­ing safety pro­to­cols by smok­ing at work as well as spend­ing large por­tions of their shifts on their phones.

Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter An­drew Con­stance yes­ter­day con­demned the “muck­ing up” in plain sight of the frus­trated Syd­ney­side who have to put up with the in­con­ve­nience of the work.

He said the work­ers needed to get on with the job.

“I ex­pect bet­ter,” Mr Con­stance said yes­ter­day.

“We have busi­nesses along the light rail route un­der enor­mous pres­sure, who ex­pect the con­trac­tor to work hard to get out of con­struc­tion zones on time.

“I have zero tol­er­ance for muck­ing up.”

Mr Con­stance said the city had an am­bi­tious in­fra­struc­ture program and con­trac­tors had to work to de­liver the projects on time and on bud­get.

On Syd­ney Water’s $1.2 mil­lion project to re­place a 200m sec­tion of water main be­tween Crown and Bourke Streets, con­trollers were seen sit­ting on parked cars and smok­ing cig­a­rettes when they were meant to be con­trol­ling traf­fic.

And yes­ter­day at a con­struc­tion site on Devon­shire St in Surry Hills, one worker was even pass­ing the time bounc­ing a ten­nis ball in a solo game of hand­ball.

An­other worker at a dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion site lit up three cig­a­rettes in the space of 40 min­utes as she leaned on a parked car.

Most of the em­ploy­ees were traf­fic con­trollers em­ployed by Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices — who can earn up to $35 an hour for ca­sual work.

“We are con­tracted to the light rail to man­age traf­fic,” one worker stand­ing around at Surry Hills road­works for the $2.1 bil­lion light rail project said yes­ter­day.

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