Large cranes used to lift girders for the new bridge at Harwood as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade.
Large cranes used to lift girders for the new bridge at Harwood as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Harwood Bridge contract suspended after serious breach

A SUB-CONTRACTOR to the Harwood Bridge construction has had their contract suspended pending an investigation into possible illegal contracting.

According to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, at least 11 sub-contractors working on the bridge were employed under ABNs as 'sham contractors', which is illegal under the Fair Work Act.

CFMEU organiser Dean Rielly said during a site visit, he discovered the 11 illegally employed sub-contractors, but he believes there could be more.

"This is a serious breach, it's breaking the Fair Work Act State and Federal government codes," he said.

The Harwood Bridge, which is being constructed by Acciona Ferrovial Harwood Joint Venture (AFHJV), under Pacific Complete, has admitted to the issues, according to Mr Rielly.

Roads and Maritime have confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into the matter and the sub-contractor's contract was suspended on Wednesday.

"Any payments made to date by AFHJV to the sub-contractor and by the sub-contractor to its workers will be examined," an RMS spokesperson said. 

"AFHJV will meet with affected employees to keep them informed."

CFMEU organiser Paul Fitzpatrick said they discovered the issue when a worker injured himself and was concerned he would not be covered by WorkCover.

"He was working under an ABN," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

He added working under and ABN would mean the worker was not compliant.

"As soon as they are not compliant, everyone is not compliant," he said. "It could cost the whole project.

"If you work under and ABN, you work for yourself, which is fine when you are working on small domestic jobs.

"The big issue is that the government (put these rules) in place so anyone in their job will be covered by insurance, receive entitlements, they will get holiday and sick leave... they are covered by the award."

Mr Fitzpatrick said they often get sub-contractors to sign statutory declarations that say they are compliant, but they don't always do the relevant vetting. He added that there could be serious penalties for Pacific Complete.