Hospital work halted

Critical situation: Laing O'Rourke has come under fire from CFMEU assistant state secretary Rebel Hanlon after work was delayed at Blacktown Hospital last week when a sub-contractor went bust. "This company has a lot to answer for," he said. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Critical situation: Laing O'Rourke has come under fire from CFMEU assistant state secretary Rebel Hanlon after work was delayed at Blacktown Hospital last week when a sub-contractor went bust. "This company has a lot to answer for," he said. Picture: Natalie Roberts

STEEL and form works on the Blacktown Hospital redevelopment came to a halt last week following the financial collapse of a construction sub-contractor.

More than 100 workers faced uncertain futures and $500,000 in unpaid wages, superannuation and entitlements after CNC Building Contractors went into administration due to financial difficulties unrelated to Blacktown works.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) assistant state secretary Rebel Hanlon called on head contractor Laing O'Rourke to take full responsibility for the situation: "What's gone on in the last few days is scandalous," Mr Hanlon said.

"Laing O'Rourke had the due diligence to ensure contractors were financially viable before work started.

"They had been entrusted to deliver this hospital on time."

He said there would be delays but that won't affect other parts of the project.

A Blacktown resident himself, Mr Hanlon asked why more local workers weren't employed.

"You've got to ask why 30-odd workers were on holiday or temporary visas when unemployment in this area is high," he said.

"The focus should be on local jobs for local workers. This is an international company not contributing to the local community."

Mr Hanlon said he believed affected workers wouldn't be in the predicament had the state government adopted recommendations of its own Collins Report.

It recommended the creation of a trust fund scheme to protect workers' entitlements.

"It's been two years since the report was released and there's been nothing," Mr Hanlon said.

A Western Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman said Laing O'Rourke was managing the matter.

The office of Health Minister Jillian Skinner didn't respond.

 A Laing O’Rourke spokesman said its first priority was ensuring continuity on the project and helping workers affected by the subcontractor’s financial issues. It’s paying wages and entitlements due to the Blacktown workers from their previous employer.

‘‘We are assisting ex-CNC workers to be transferred to another company so they can continue their work at Blacktown,’’ he said.

‘‘Workers are expected to receive all remaining entitlements by mid-week.

‘‘Alternate employers are ready and able to sign up any affected workers, while Laing O’Rourke is also ensuring any additional trades and suppliers required are available to avoid any impact on the project.’’

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