Transfield NZ subbies down tools after no pay for weeks

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Transfield NZ subbies down tools after no pay for weeks

'Computer glitch' investigated as cause.

A number of subcontractors working for Transfield Services on New Zealand's government funded Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre to the premise project have walked off the job after going without pay for weeks.

Transfield did not confirm what caused the dozens of subcontractors to not be paid but said it was investigating a potential "computer glitch", as well as conflicts between subcontractors and their employers.

The spokesperson could not rule out that more subcontractors had not received pay, with the number potentially in the hundreds.

Transfield said the rollout of the NZ$1.5 million (A$1.3 million) UFB project would not be delayed despite the payment problems and staff strike, the company told the Nelson Mail.

Politicians in New Zealand have turned their attention to the issue, with the nation's opposition raising it in Parliament today. 

Opposition communications spokesperson Clare Curran claimed hundreds of workers around Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Nelson and Rotorua had not been paid for weeks, and wouldn't get any money until October.

"These involve payments of at least NZ$1 million and likely much more," Curran said.

According to Curran, the Transfield contractors work for the Chorus and Ultrafast Fibre providers.

Communications minister Amy Adams today intervened and told Transfield she expected the company to pay its contractors "as quickly as possible".

“It is my expectation that Transfield Services should be looking to make these payments without further delay," Adams said.

“Transfield Services needs to explain exactly why this situation has developed, what it is doing to resolve it and give an assurance that it will not happen again.

“It is disappointing for the contractors and their families that they have not been paid and I am eager to see this rectified."

The government agency in charge of managing the UFB project, Crown Fibre Holdings, has been asked by Adams to work with Transfield until the issue is resolved.

Transfield is working with four infrastructure companies awarded UFB contracts, namely Enable Networks, Ultrafast Fibre, Northpower Fibre and Chorus, to lay fibre-optic cable around the country.

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