Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association Australia President’s Report

Published 29/12, 2016 at 13:28

The Australian construction industry in 2016 has set a new record for the number of companies placed into liquidation this past financial year. This sorry state of affairs is sanctioned by antiquated laws overseen by a toothless tiger the Australian Government.

What is ironic in all this is the average Australian taxpayer has to cover the losses incurred by these defaults. If you look at any creditor list you will find the Australian tax office in the top five creditors on most occasions. This equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and it is simply written off and passed down the line. This practice of incurring debt and going into liquidation has become big business for those directors that know how to manipulate the system. Close a company down and start another in its place with a clean record, this is why this country is in such a financial mess.

How does this affect the sawing and drilling industry: it affects everyone and everything in different ways. Obviously the financial burden placed upon a subcontractor or supplier who has to write off revenue can have varying consequences, depending on the size of the loss.

It is not uncommon for companies to down size to absorb these losses or become part of a bigger car wreck forced into liquidation themselves. I have come to the realisation that unless laws are put in place with sufficient financial deterrents company directors will continue to act without fear, accountability or liability. It would, therefore, make sense for the average sawing and drilling company to have in place procedures for credit checks and payment terms to mitigate exposure to these events. In reality many companies are not prepared because they do not have the means or are too busy cutting concrete to make the correct inquiries.

Basic credit applications can assist in making informed decisions on payment terms and credit limits. This does not guarantee you are going to get paid, however it will help to determine if you really want to work for this client based on the results of the application.

It is good business practice to check a new client’s credit history and to review your regular clients. Slow payers in any country generally mean one thing and one thing only, insufficient cash flow. I can almost guarantee that once a client’s credit is suspended or withdrawn, they will shop around for the next available supplier.

Since the 2008 GFC the construction industry has made hard work of pulling itself out of the mud. Low interest rates and even lower profit margins by builders have created a fine mess with no sign of improvement anytime soon.

Reward for effort can be a contradiction in terms when we look at the costs invested in our staff. Employing competent operators and having the ability to progress through training and industry courses is becoming harder to justify, not because of the financial cost, but because there is limited interest or support from end users.

In Australia the sawing and drilling industry has been tarred with the same brush since the late 1960’s. Unskilled labour is a term that is still commonly used today in reference to the industry classification we are defined by. This has provided a green light for every plumber, electrician, concreter, or builder to use and operate sawing and drilling systems, as and when they like.

The Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association Australia has gone to great lengths to have the unskilled labour classification amended to reflect a trade based classification of portable plant operator. It is a small step and provides a pathway to build on the course in concrete sawing and drilling, which will be delivered through Wodonga Tafe in early 2017.

During the past four years the CSDAA has developed a new training and assessment course that provides a mechanism to validate recognition of prior learning. The course is designed to streamline the assessment process of an operator’s skills and knowledge and transfer that competency onto an operator identification card issued by the CSDAA on completion of assessment.

There has been some confusion generated by Chinese whispers throughout the development of the training and assessment accreditation process. Regardless of your affiliations or individual beliefs the point still remains; it is the employer who has the duty to provide information; instruction; training; and supervision of employees. The employer is required to provide employees with sufficient competency to perform their work in such a way that it will not expose them or others to harm.

In addition to competency standards the possession of an operator competency card issued by the CSDAA is not to be taken by employers to mean that the operator has the experience and skills required for every specific work task they are assigned.

It is also important to recognise that inexperienced and young workers of 15 to 19 years, look to the more skilled workers to model their behaviour. Skilled workers and workplace supervisors should be aware of their influence when engaging with inexperienced or young workers, providing a culture that includes workplace safety as a key feature.

The CSDAA has recently uploaded two short recognition of prior learning videos onto the home page of the CSDAA web site. These videos are designed to provide employers and employees an overview of the RPL process and what is required to attain the competency operator cards. The web site is www.csdaa.com.au

With the unforeseen delays in contract negotiations and administrative issues with government bodies relating to the course in concrete sawing and drilling, I will be renominating for another term as president of the CSDAA. My decision has been based on my capacity to complete the assigned training initiatives prior to my departure as president of the CSDAA.

Jason Franken
President CSDAA

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