‘It’s like playing Russian roulette with your life’
A SMALL business owner says he will lose everything if Grocon does not pay him $40,000 owed for work he’s done to the Commonwealth Games athletes village since September.
The tradesman said Grocon representatives had stopped answering his calls last week — until he emailed them to say he’d contacted the Bulletin and the phone rang within minutes.
“We’re a small company, there are only four of us and this has happened before,” he said.
“They called and said to wait, that they'd pay soon – but they haven’t given a date.”
John Goddard, founder of support group Subbies United, said he had received calls from subbies who threatened self harm and suicide – men and women who had nothing left to lose and nowhere else to turn.
“There is a palpable fear out there,” he said.
“Most subbies would use their home as security for an overdraft or these days a line of credit but when subbies sign a contract, they don’t know if they will be paid for their work.
“It’s like playing Russian roulette with your business, your home, your family and your life.”
The Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Bill was passed by parliament two days before the election was called.
It introduces project bank accounts which hold subcontractor payments in trust, to help ensure small and medium construction businesses are paid in full, on time and every time.
They were brought forward in the wake of a string of construction company failures, including the $6 million collapse of Queensland One Homes and $1 million failure of Commonwealth Games Village contractor Ware Building.
Les Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance said the new laws, which are not retrospective, would remove billions of dollars of risk from small subcontracting businesses.
“The laws have addressed these problems, but unfortunately too late for these Grocon guys,” he said.
Les Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance.