Jewel drama: ‘A misunderstanding’
ON day two of turmoil for 100s of workers and contractors facing uncertain futures at the Jewel towers site, project owner Yuhu Group is dubbing it one big "misunderstanding".
But that isn't washing with swathes of workers at the $1 billion-plus beachfront development in Surfers Paradise who walked off the job yesterday morning leaving the shining triple towers looking deserted.
A Yuhu Group spokesman said work was continuing internally but the Bulletin has been told the workforce of 900 numbered just several hundred throughout the day.
At least one contractor has quit with his crew, saying communication is so bad he's uncertain what to proceed with. Another - Ingrams Shopfitting and Fine Joinery - has been forced to let go 50 workers.
Several contractors said subbies had been told to finish what they were doing and leave - and not to start any new jobs.
As a result, bosses are being faced with giving every staffer a few days or just a small portion of staff two weeks work.
A Yuhu Group statement on Wednesday said designs of the lower podium levels of the hotel were still not finalised and would now be done later in the "construction schedule".
New tenders for the work would be offered but project builder Multiplex was still the "major project partner", Yuhu maintained.
In a new statement yesterday, Yuhu Group said it was committed to finishing the towers by mid-2019 and would select an operator for the 169-room hotel within weeks.
"All payments to Multiplex due and payable in accordance with the contract are made.
"We will also play a constructive role in supporting and encouraging Multiplex to resolve any potential misunderstandings on the project site with subcontractors, other workers or anyone with concerns," the Yuhu Group statement said.
Yuhu Group was "surprised" at reports of job losses and potential job losses - but a contractor told the Bulletin: "That's a damn line".
"There is no certainty - no tradie will be able to hold their staff indefinitely waiting for a redesign."
A construction expert is tipping subcontractor losses could be the Gold Coast's worst ever.
Subbies United president John Goddard, with 30 years experience, said subbies typically lost millions in unpaid materials, labour and future work.
He said it would be comparable to the $30 million 2016 Cullen Group collapse but if every subcontractor was terminated, Jewel losses would top it.
"It's not clear what's happening yet but if it goes the way it seems to be, I'd say Jewel will be the worst the Gold Coast has seen.
"You've got to pour hundreds of thousands in before you even see a cent in quoting, surveyors, negotiations, manufacturing or ordering. That's what you've got to do as a subbie - hundreds of thousands of credit without any security or collateral.
"I know of 140 workers out of jobs. Their businesses are going to be affected badly and some might even lose them."
One worker expected 80 per cent of employees from his company to be let go and an insider said at least 300 more from the site would be gone - all by Wednesday.
A tradesman working on the site with family members said they all believed they would lose their jobs.
Among those facing uncertainty are men expecting their houses to be repossessed if they can't find work and who have pregnant wives or new babies.
"This runs deep," one said.
Yuhu Group's statement added: "All necessary work will be carried out to finish what will be a magnificent new asset. Local tradespeople will continue to be beneficiaries."