As the caterers rolled in for Adelaide Oval’s grand opening last week, around 30 electricians onsite were handed their redundancy notices.
Another 50 workers are waiting anxiously to see if their employer, electro-technology company Nilsen, has any further work for them, as unions warn that the construction sector is almost totally reliant on State Government work.
Nilsen had planned to move its workforce over to the New Royal Adelaide Hospital project, but a delay on that site has left a trough in work available as publicly funded projects wind down and private sector investment remains dormant.
“Almost all the work around town at the moment is government funded and the new hospital project is about eight months behind where it was expected to be,” Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) spokesman Jason Wilder told InDaily.
“These workers had been working on the Superway and Adelaide Oval and they were meant to be moved onto the new RAH, but it didn’t work out that way.
“We are told the company (Nilsen) plans to make around 80-90 workers redundant.”
Wilder said the government-funded projects had been propping up a dormant period in the construction sector.
“If it wasn’t for the government jobs, there wouldn’t be any work,” he said.
“There would be mass unemployment.
“There is very little around in the way of private sector investment in big projects; there are a few apartment buildings but that’s about it.
“Hopefully it turns around before the hospital job ends.”
Nilsen declined to comment on the redundancies.
The office of Nilsen SA’s managing director Greg Hodby said he was on holidays and “no-one else is allowed to talk about the redundancies”.
Federal and state ministers responsible for another major public infrastructure project – the North/South road corridor – met in Adelaide this morning, seeking to resolve the impasse on which part of the project should be funded next.
Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, met with recently appointed state Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Steven Mullighan.
The two governments had been at odds before the recent state election, with the Commonwealth wanting to start the project with an upgrade at Darlington in the city’s south. The State Government maintained a section of the road further north – the so-called Torrens to Torrens section – should be the priority.
But today’s meeting appears to have closed the gap.
Briggs said he was now more confident about the project.
“We want to get the north-south corridor upgraded in a decade,” he said.
Mullighan described the meeting as productive.
“We’ve made very clear what our priority is and they’ve made very clear what their priority is,” he said.
“What we’re working on is how we can deliver both projects.”
Mullighan said talks would continue.
– with AAP
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