Subcontractors working on publicly funded projects need more protections in place to ensure they get paid according to Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
The Independent TD was speaking in the Dáil on a ‘Report on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for Public Sector Infrastructure Projects’ which examined the collapse of the Carrilion Group in 2018, which had a significant impact on subcontractors involved in projects it has bid for.
Michael Fitzmaurice suggested that when government departments or state agencies are undertaking a project, the contract with the primary contractor should include a clause with a list of all subcontractors involved.
He argued that many subcontractors need to be paid fortnightly in order to continue operating, and that it can be a serious issue when they are trying to negotiate final sums with larger firms.
“It becomes a major problem. I refer to small operators who do not qualify under the procurement guidelines as they lack the necessary level of turnover, which is a problem with the procurement rules.”
“We need to ensure there is protection there because these firms are vulnerable; there is no point in saying they are not,” Deputy Fitzmaurice continued.
“We have heard the stories that go around in the different parts of the country. A subcontractor might be owed €24,000 only to be told by the contractor that they would receive €20,000 and that would be it, and they might have their tongue out for it.”
He finished by saying that a list of any subcontractors who were working on site should be provided by the main contractor before the state pays them any money.
This report from the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach reportedly made a number of recommendations to alter the Construction Contracts Act 2013 to provide more safeguards for subcontractors.