Small firms halt work over pay

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Subcontractors working on roadworks in the Eastern Cape down tools and block the entrance of a main contractor’s site office in an effort to get paid.

H&I Contractors allegedly reneged on a work rate agreed upon before the smaller companies began work on the R61, outside Mthatha.

The multimillion-rand project will form part of the massive N2 toll road, which will go through Mthatha to KwaZulu-Natal.

On Tuesday, the subcontractors blocked H&I Contractors’ offices.

Yesterday, they did the same but postponed their protest until today because of rain.

According to one of the subcontractors, who preferred anonymity for fear of future snubbing by major contractors, their main job was to build kerbs and carry out drainage work.

He said the contractor had failed to pay them for other work done.

The subcontractor said while small companies involved were not given appointment letters, verbal agreements were made.

“All they are doing is to pay us enough to pay our employees. They treat us as if we are foremen, not legitimate companies,” the subcontractor said.

“Even now I will be left with R4000 after paying salaries. I have to cover petrol costs and pay SARS and buy tools with the remainder. It is not enough.”

Another subcontractor, Akhona Ntola, said a meeting with an H&I executive from it head office in Cape Town was to be held tomorrow.

An H&I head office employee said the managing director would only be able to respond to questions today as there were meetings all day yesterday.