Blockade threat

FURIOUS: Contractor Mark Nelson is ready to stage a site blockade at HMAS Albatross if payment of around $2 million is not made to local workers following the voluntary administration of earthmoving company Hewatt.

FURIOUS: Contractor Mark Nelson is ready to stage a site blockade at HMAS Albatross if payment of around $2 million is not made to local workers following the voluntary administration of earthmoving company Hewatt.

A STOOD down subcontractor has formally requested payments of $1.5 to $2 million after earthmoving operations at HMAS Albatross were forced to stop following Canberra company Hewatt’s voluntary administration.

Mark Nelson from Coordinated Logistics said he was prepared to make as much noise as possible on behalf of all workers bitten by the circumstances.

In a drastic move to have his grievances heard, Mr Nelson said he was prepared to stage a blockade to shut the work site down if there was no payment.

“I’m now waiting for word from Lend Lease or the Australian Defence Force – it’s on the table for them to approach me,” he said.

“I’ve done the numbers and from the list of subcontractors, I alone have about 30, the money owed is at least $3 million.

“Some are owed at least a quarter of a million, so I think the top-up amount of $1.5 to $2 million is pretty generous.

“I have to do this for the financial stability of my company. I’m owed $350,000-plus.”

Contracts signed before work began on site said payment was to be made 45 days from the end of the month, Mr Nelson said.

“The system needs to be regulated.”

Mr Nelson said he was concerned about irregular wages from Hewatt earlier this year and approached Lend Lease, the Defence Department and federal MPs to look into the matter.

“There was nothing brought back to us about these concerns, so we continued work,” he said.

“Now this has happened.”

The site has seen increased 24-hour security which Mr Nelson welcomed because it meant his blockade had been heard.

Mr Nelson said contractors’ frustrations involving government projects were warranted and it was not the first time a company, which hired local workers, has gone bust leaving people out of pocket.

“You would have on record that a similar thing happened at Creswell a while back and at a project in Bomaderry where the company went bust so a second company came in to finish the work, also going bust,” he said.

“Those workers who went back to try to redeem the money they first lost were bitten twice.”

Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis said she would discuss the matter with the Defence Minister on Thursday.

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