Trades launch industry lobby group

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 16:08 18/07/2012

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Canterbury tradesmen and industry organisations have joined forces to create Cantrades, a lobby group to try to solve problems with Fletcher EQR's management of the Christchurch rebuild.

The alliance includes the Registered Master Builders' Association, Certified Builders, Master Painters, the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries and the Electrical Contractors' Association of New Zealand.

Canterbury Claddings & Linings director Peter Rodda, a member of the group's organising committee, said a meeting was held today to solidify the group.

The group would be a way to ease tradesmen's frustrations with Fletcher EQR and communicate with the company, he said.

''I don't believe Fletchers are the evil villains they've been made out to be, but there are some big issues going on that we need to get on to,'' he said.

Fletcher EQR is the project manager for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and has inducted 14,700 contractors to repair Canterbury houses with between $10,000 and $100,000 of damage.

Fletcher said last week it had dropped painting and plastering rates from $25 a square metre to $19.

Rodda said the changes to rates were not the problem; rather the uncertainty it caused for growing businesses.

Workflow had slowed to a trickle in recent months, leaving many companies struggling and laying off staff, he said.

Cantrades would use collective power to ask questions on behalf of small trades businesses and mediate disputes, Rodda said.

He hoped the group would ensure tradesmen were paid fairly, while homeowners, taxpayers and insurers were protected from poor workmanship and over-inflated rates, he said.

The organisation would ask the EQC and EQR to talk about the issues, he said.

''In response to the recent reports regarding painting rates, Cantrades is not comfortable with either side's representation and believes that the facts, as reported, are a very small part of a much bigger and more complex picture,'' he said.

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- The Press

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