The decision this week by the NSW Government to partially reopen the building and construction industry in Greater Sydney has created more problems than it will solve.
Channel Nine this week reported that “the building industry will swing back into action on Saturday” but an examination of just what tradies can and cannot do provides a very different picture.
Work at occupied residential premises in Greater Sydney can now take place provided there is no contact between tradies and residents.
There will be a limit of no more than two workers for indoor services and a maximum of five workers for outdoor services and work may only proceed where it is possible for the occupiers to vacate the area where the work is being done.
And that’s the ‘good’ news!
This week, the Health Department in consultation with Premier Gladys Berejyklian added three new Local Government Areas (LGAs) to the list of those that are in “hard lock down” – with stricter mask rules, a five kilometre travel limit for shopping and exercising and a ban on residents leaving their area for non-essential work.
Those eight LGAs – namely Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Campbelltown, Cumberland, Georges River, Fairfield, Liverpool and Parramatta are home to approximately 75,000 tradies, or 28 percent of the local industry’s 270,000 building workers and contractors.
Building works are not permitted within any of the above LGAs, nor can building and construction workers who reside in these areas leave their homes to work on job sites in other parts of Sydney as general construction workers are not considered “authorised workers”.
One of the more bizarre rulings is that building workers and contractors can only visit three sites per week.
Obviously, the Government did not take into account electrical and plumbing contractors, many of whom would in the course of an average week visit anywhere between 10 and 15 jobsites.
Yes I Can Project Group Director Richard Dargham (pictured) this week described the supposed re-opening of the building industry as “misleading”.
“The Government’s announcement on Thursday that the building and construction industry in Greater Sydney is being reopened from this weekend is very misleading, as it tells only about 10 percent of the true story,” Richard said.
“There are so many rules and restrictions that the Government has placed upon the industry that for many builders who ARE permitted to return to work, it’s simply not worth their while to do so.
“Tradies can only visit three worksites per week but what about plumbers and sparkies, many of whom would normally have 10 or 15 jobs a week to attend to in different areas?
“Another issue is with regard to the supply chain, while the Government hasn’t even addressed whether or not we can do work on apartment complexes.
“Also, there is no clarity – no clear picture – as to how and when the building and construction industry will opened up to its full capacity….will tradies be allowed to go back to work freely or will they initially be categorised as essential service workers, meaning we will still be working under restrictions similar to what we have now?
“Because there is no clarity and no roadmap out of this, it is nearly impossible to do any work on any jobsite right now.
“Every job site has different requirements and trying to address them all is like trying to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.”
Richard stressed that Yes I Can Project Group is “as compliant as any company out there when it comes to the safety of our customers and our workers.
“We have QR-codes on all our jobsites; we supply hand sanitiser at all our jobsites and to all our tradies.
“All our tradies must sign in and they must wear face masks so we are doing everything in our power to be compliant.
“We give regular updates on everything to all our customers and to all our staff to keep them all in the loop and our project managers ensure that the COVID safety rules are enforced to the letter.
“At this point in time, we have 15 jobs in the system which are either partially completed or are ready to commence but how am I able to provide my customers with accurate timeframes when the information coming through from the Government is so inconclusive?
“As I said earlier….no clarity….no direction…no roadmap and definitely not nearly enough thought was put into this supposed ‘reopening’ of our industry.
“It makes me laugh when I hear everyone patting the NRL on the back for basically keeping the public entertained through the past 18 months of COVID.
“But it’s the building industry which is the lifeblood of the economy in Australia and which has kept Australia going through COVID.
“Building and construction had gone on almost seamlessly throughout COVID but these ill-thought out decisions by the NSW Government over the past fortnight are ruining the livelihood of tradies and will almost certainly put some building companies out of business – if they haven’t already done so.”