Out-of-pocket subbies call for change
Anxious Christchurch subcontractors owed millions of dollars by collapsed building company Mainzeal will be seeking the help of politicians to require retention money to be held in trust by a third party.
About 30 Christchurch subbies meet last night to talk over their plight at a meeting organised by Peter Diver Plumbing and Drainage.
Peter Diver said retentions were amounts of money held by building companies as a type of bond until subcontractors completed their work.
But he believed the building companies used them to fund their overheads and subbies had to virtually beg to get the money back.
Many of the subbies owned money by Mainzeal were resigned to the fact that under receiverships they were usually lucky to get anything. ''We are at the bottom of the pit,'' Diver said.
But they regarded retentions as the most serious issue.
The subbies did not want to boycott or picket the Mainzeal sites because they felt it was pointless, Diver said.
''They are looking at trying to persuade politicians to look into the plight of tradesmen. They are second class citizens in the commercial world.
''Retentions held by a trust. That would be one of the ways of protecting the money, '' he said.
While Diver Plumbing is owed more than $500,000 by Mainzeal, Diver said the company had the resources to cover it.
''We have been wounded but not mortally. We are here for the long haul and have resources to cover.''
He urged building owners to play their part by asking building contractors each time they made a progress payment if the subcontractors had been paid. It was in the interest of building owners to check that.
''Shelling out progress payments and not knowing where the money goes is foolhardy,'' he said.