The Enquirer has been contacted by scores of subcontractors accusing some Tier Ones of bullying as they threaten to put specialists on notice of delay and breach of contract.
While the majority of major contractors are trying to do the right thing in the current crisis in the face of huge pressure from clients – others are simply reverting to the bad old days of subbie bashing to protect their balance sheets.
One subcontractor said: “We don’t think the site we are on is safe and shouldn’t be operating.
“We made our position clear to the main contractor and they came back threatening us with breach of contract if we didn’t turn up as normal.
“To make matters even worse they have now returned our payment applications of recent months slashed to nearly nothing as they blatantly try to hold onto cash.”
Another subcontractor said: “The message from the Government is confusing but the message from some main contractors is clear – turn up or else.
“One big firm we are working for is adamant all its sites are open and if we don’t show up with a full complement of workers and materials they will put us on notice and hold us responsible for delays.
“It’s bullying at a time when the industry should be pulling together.”
The behaviour of some main contractors has saddened, but not surprised, industry veterans.
One said: “We’ve had years of these firms pretending they are great employers and care about their suppliers.
“Now as soon as a crisis hits they revert to type.
“They are forcing people to work on sites and trying to shaft anyone they can down the supply chain to hoard cash and it’s disgraceful to see.
“We all live in a very connected world now and everyone knows who the good guys and bad guys are in the industry at this time.
“The bad ones won’t be forgiven easily when this is all over.”