Uncertain futures for Mainzeal workers
Thu, 07 Feb 2013 6:03p.m.
By Tony Field
Work has stopped on Mainzeal building sites around the country leaving hundreds of staff, sub-contractors and creditors worried about their futures.
Mainzeal Property and Construction went into receivership yesterday, hurt by a string of problems including the cost of repairing leaky buildings.
Staff don’t know if they still have a job and sub contractors don't know if they will be paid for work already done, or whether they will get their equipment back.
Many of Mainzeal's workers heard about the receivership on the television news last night or online.
They had their first chance to ask Mainzeal about it this morning in Auckland.
Some workers have been with the company for a decade or more, and one, Sapu Lousiale, says their future is now uncertain.
“I don’t know what's going to happen next, or what's going to happen in the future. I've got family to feed,” he says.
But the receivers need time to go through Mainzeal's books.
Some workers told 3 News they were not worried about finding new work, but finding it could mean moving cities.
“The rates are pretty low, unless you go to Christchurch, but there's not much accommodation down there anyway unless you have got a camper van,” says Darren Pokai.
Mainzeal's staff in Christchurch were just as keen for answers.
Paul Johnston from the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) says even managerial staff were unaware of the situation.
“I was just talking to the manager before the meeting and he didn't even know anything was going on until yesterday,” he says.
The Prime Minister is trying to remain optimistic.
“My guess is that if the company is liquidated, which looks like it is going to be the case, it's highly likely that they'll either be bought in part or in totality. Certainly we would expect those workers to be able to find jobs in other places,” says John Key.
Mainzeal has plenty of projects on the go – but was dogged by problems like the repair bill for leaky buildings.
One of those left most out of pocket is Christchurch contractor Doug Haselden – he told Campbell Live he's owed over $200,000.
Among the Mainzeal projects now left in limbo is the $95 million business school being built for the Manukau Institute of Technology where 5000 students were supposed to start classes in September. The receivers say they want to finish, but it now looks like it won't open until the New Year at the earliest.
Many of the subcontractors have tools locked up inside Mainzeal's building sites. 3 News spoke to one who has $10,000-worth of tools inside one site in downtown Auckland. He's not sure when he’ll get them back, and is now trying to find new work for eight of his staff.
The receivers hope they can start returning the tools – and answering workers questions – early next week.
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