Scale of Fletcher debacle “gobsmacking”
The construction union, E tū says it is working to clarify the effect of Fletcher Building and Interiors’ huge loss on its members at Fletchers.
“We’re still coming to terms with the fact that the country’s biggest building company is no longer bidding for new commercial projects, which is just extraordinary,” says Ron Angel, E tū’s Industry Coordinator for Engineering and Infrastructure.
“We’re trying to find out what happens next, but we will have members affected by this – though it’s currently unclear how many,” he says.
Ron says union organisers had visited Fletcher sites in Christchurch this morning, where members had been told to expect closure once work is finished on company projects including the city’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.
“Our immediate focus is to protect our members’ interests. We hope if there are redundancies our members can be redeployed in other Fletcher divisions. Some will be entitled to redundancy pay, but others won’t,” says Ron.
Ron says E tū has also spoken with members about the factors behind the near-billion dollar losses.
“In part, this is a result of too many people in head office doing the paperwork and pushing up overheads, and too few people on the ground doing the work,” says Ron.
He says a lack of experience in project management also meant a lot of mistakes, especially on the Justice precinct project.
“Our members have told us that 50 percent of that project was built twice.
“The workers say they’d put stuff up and a week later they’d be pulling it down again because the design changed or there were design faults, cracked tiles and the like. And there was too little supervision, with no one taking responsibility for the quality of the work.”
Poor cost control had also been flagged by the division’s Chair, Sir Ralph Norris, who has resigned.
Ron says Fletchers’ losses are “a salutary indictment of the sub-contracting model which is killing the construction industry in New Zealand.
“It means Fletchers has been unable to control costs and quality on these big projects and the result is just gobsmacking.”