• Due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software, some users were "banned" when they tried to change their passwords at the end of February. This does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you were affected by this, please us viua the Contact us link in the footer.

New government, same raw deal for construction subcontractors - when will new laws be passed?


DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
In May 2010 Senator Feargal Quinn introduced the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 to the Oireachtas. This bill is intended to bring an end to the chaotic payment practices which dog the construction industry by affording contractors and, most pertinently, subcontractors with a range of statutory rights and implementing a fast track adjudication procedure to allow disputes to be settled in a timely manner. It has widespread support amongst contractors across the industry and also has the backing of the Construction Industry Federation.

Details of the Bill:

Construction Contracts Bill 2010 [Seanad] [PMB] (Number 21 of 2010) - Tithe an Oireachtais

A good summation of the Bill provided by Arthur Cox Solicitors:

The Construction Contracts Bill 2010: Overview | Projects Group Newsletter: On Track, Spring 2011 | Arthur Cox | Solicitors, Lawyers | Ireland

Anyone who has any experience of working in the construction industry, particularly since the economic collapse, will know how badly this is needed. Subcontractors are, to put it in simple terms, being screwed continuously by main contractors who are often acting in an unscrupulous manner rather than out of their own financial distress. Many jobs have been lost and many families have faced hardship as subcontractors, often very small or single man operations, are left high and dry by main contractors who have been paid in full and are left out of pocket and with no right to take back materials or goods supplied.

When the Bill was introduced in 2010 it was supported by the Department of Finance who took up the baton and ran with it. Unfortunately running obviously isn't their strong point as almost three years later and almost two years into the current administration the Bill has not been enacted and continues to crawl through the Oireachtas in a state of limbo.

Enough has been said and written about the unhealthy links between the bigger players in the construction industry and our political parties in recent years. We saw the introduction of improved standards for residential construction delayed until after the end of the housing boom.

Now we see the government enjoying plummeting tender prices for public works projects even though labour and material prices have not dropped by anywhere near that amount. If a contractor's tender is below cost then somebody has to lose out and invariably it's subcontractors who are left to carry the can.

So when will this be resolved? The Dáil debate last May on the Bill was littered with TDs expressing their wholehearted support and Minister of State Brian Hayes expressing his hope that it would become law before the summer recess. Eight months later and still nothing.

Do the government care about subcontractors or are they happy to string out the process while they get their projects built at below cost prices? With FF it was hardly surprising to see small contractors ignored but this government should be ashamed of their inaction.
 


Munnkeyman

Moderator
Joined
Jul 14, 2010
Messages
7,168
Good thread, cheers DaveM. This is why I love P.ie; well-written, succinct and cogent OPs.
 

gatsbygirl20

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
22,773
Did the much-vilified presidential candidate Sean Gallagher not try to establish some code of behaviour in this area?
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
Did the much-vilified presidential candidate Sean Gallagher not try to establish some code of behaviour in this area?
He was involved with Feargal Quinn in the drafting of the bill. In fairness to Sean Gallagher he was beating the drum on this one for a long time before he ran for the Áras and he deserves credit for that.
 

toconn

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Messages
3,229
I hear where your coming from but why can't subcontractors apply good business practices by ensuring contracts contain clauses to ensure payment ? For example , a percentage up front followed by payment on completion ect . Or they could apply terms of sale where they retain ownership of goods until paid for etc.
This is what happens in other industries , why do you need separate legislation for the construction industry ? I'm not being difficult I'm just trying to point out some realities , ie that a job is not worth doing unless you get paid for it !
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
I hear where your coming from but why can't subcontractors apply good business practices by ensuring contracts contain clauses to ensure payment ? For example , a percentage up front followed by payment on completion ect . Or they could apply terms of sale where they retain ownership of goods until paid for etc.
This is what happens in other industries , why do you need separate legislation for the construction industry ? I'm not being difficult I'm just trying to point out some realities , ie that a job is not worth doing unless you get paid for it !
It's a fair point and in many instances proper contracts are put in place. However at the lower end of the industry verbal or very basic written agreements are common and then you have the added issue of unenvisaged additional works or incidental extras over and above the additional contract price. Plus once materials and goods become an integral part of a building title passes regardless of payment.

Also in a depressed market where you have to fight hard for work do you want to be the one scaring off potential clients by talking in legal terms when your competitors aren't? These guys are still in business by the skin of their teeth.

Proper protection in the form of this bill is needed, it's been in the Oireachtas for almost three years and all it needs is for the finger to be pulled out to get it onto the statute books.
 
D

Deleted member 34656

Remind me again when the new public sector contracts came into force...
 

Kitty O'Shea

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2010
Messages
1,553
From what I've heard, it's extremely cut throat in the construction sector, even more so than before the crash. Is it within the remit of the CIF to push for this?
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
From what I've heard, it's extremely cut throat in the construction sector, even more so than before the crash. Is it within the remit of the CIF to push for this?
Many of those affected are CIF members.
 

oggy

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2009
Messages
8,958
I believe at the heart of this problem is the Irish disease of delaying payment for services or goods until forced to or dodging payment altogether. The problem has been around forever and we argue the toss but a statutory law along the lines compelling all debtors to pay up within 4 weeks of contract completion or face stiff fines is the only answer.

A related but serious other problem is that too many subcontractors are devoid of any business training
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
This is worth a listen. Documentary about the stand off at Kilfinane NS last November when unpaid subcontractors brought matters to a head by attempting to remove good supplied and installed from the school.

This is the kind of project where below cost tendering is rife and where that happens and the government is willing to award contracts to those bidders there are consequences.

RT.ie Radio 1: Documentary on One - Take No More
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
Bumping this up again. It's now over 3 years since this bill was introduced and still no sign of it entering law.

In May 2012 Brian Hayes said he hoped it would become law before the summer recess. It didn't. And it looks like that will be the case again when the Oireachtas breaks for holidays next month.

Do our elected representative not appreciate the hardships facing subcontractors? That business' are continuing to go to the wall because they cannot receive payments to which they are legally entitled?

Or, more likely, do they just not care?
 

revolution

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 13, 2009
Messages
1,013
The school building projects are rife with this sort of non/late payments,I'm a
bricklayer and after an expierience last year building classrooms onto a school I'll
never go near one again, still not paid for the work and the contractors changed
their phone numbers.

If I hear monthly payment on any job I won't touch it.

We discussed putting a picket on the school gates to force the contractor to pay up
but decided against it.
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
The school building projects are rife with this sort of non/late payments,I'm a
bricklayer and after an expierience last year building classrooms onto a school I'll
never go near one again, still not paid for the work and the contractors changed
their phone numbers.

If I hear monthly payment on any job I won't touch it.

We discussed putting a picket on the school gates to force the contractor to pay up
but decided against it.
People need to realise how common this is. With some main contractors this kind of behaviour is their normal way of conducting their business.

With the market the way it is now this kind of exploitation is rife. And the government don't seem to care as they're enjoying record low tender prices for these projects and plenty of ribbon cutting ceremonies. You can't build anything below cost without somebody losing out and it's the subcontractors who are consistently being treated like sh*t.
 

revolution

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 13, 2009
Messages
1,013
If you know where the contractor lives/works picket his home or office.
We started another job nearly immediatly so I just didn't bother picketing the school,as for the contractor,I didn't
have a clue where they were based but dublin is a small town,we'll meet again.

Having said that there are some good contractors,we built the new classrooms at harolds cross primary school
for a crowd from co.meath and they were gentlemen to deal with.
 

revolution

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 13, 2009
Messages
1,013
People need to realise how common this is. With some main contractors this kind of behaviour is their normal way of conducting their business.

With the market the way it is now this kind of exploitation is rife. And the government don't seem to care as they're enjoying record low tender prices for these projects and plenty of ribbon cutting ceremonies. You can't build anything below cost without somebody losing out and it's the subcontractors who are consistently being treated like sh*t.
Its fkn soul destroying to price a job,get it,bring in a crew and work away with no wages for 6 weeks (smaller jobs can often
be finished in that timeframe) and then get messed around with money. The lads i'd have brought onto the job with kids,mortgages
etc need to get paid or they wouldn't make themselves available for the next job.
 

DaveM

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
16,028
Its fkn soul destroying to price a job,get it,bring in a crew and work away with no wages for 6 weeks (smaller jobs can often
be finished in that timeframe) and then get messed around with money. The lads i'd have brought onto the job with kids,mortgages
etc need to get paid or they wouldn't make themselves available for the next job.
I understand completely. I work for a main contractor myself. We generally use the same core bunch of subcontractors from job to job. Have done for the past 20 years and there is a lot of trust there. However whenever I send an enquiry to someone I haven't dealt with before you can sense the anxiety in them from the get go.

What's going on is beyond being unethical. It's theft. It's a complete abuse of companies and sole traders who enjoy zero protection from the law. And when it comes to public works jobs a main contractor who does this never has to fear not being awarded future contracts.

That the government seem intent on continuing to look the other way is shameful.
 

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top