Australia NBN contractors, subcontractors battle over pay conditions

The rollout of Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) is facing another setback as subcontractors fight over payments with the project's prime contractors. About six subcontractors that are laying fiber cable in Tasmania are disputing payment terms with Visionstream, while in regional Victoria, Transfield Services is dealing with pay disputes with several subcontractors.

Visionstream, reports The Australian, wants to shift from a daily rate to a new "schedule of fees," something that the Tasmanian contractors say would cause them to lose between $276 and $920 per day per crew.

"That means if a subcontractor does half a day's work on an NBN site, we pay them for the work that's been done, and we're not paying a full day's rate for half a day's work," said Visionstream's spokeswoman Louisa Graham. "We are working with our contractors to determine whether the rates are correct under a full program rollout."

Meanwhile, in Ballarat, Victoria, two subcontractors that work with Transfield Services have stopped work to protest about not being paid on time or paid enough.

A spokesman for Transfield told The Australian they did not miss any payments, but said that work in Ballarat has been put on hold while they try to work out their disagreements with their subcontractors.

A Transfield spokesman denied the firm had missed payments, but confirmed that work in Ballarat had been suspended while the dispute was being resolved. Other sites in Victoria were not affected and the company hoped work would resume in the next few days.

These latest disputes between the contractors come at a time when NBN Co. said it had just met its revised end-of-year target of 190,000 to 220,000 homes passed by its fiber to the home (FTTH) rollout.

For more:
- The Australian has this article (sub. req.)

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