Workers essential to revive Sydney’s struggling construction industry


“There is a great sense of urgency to solve this problem, especially for builders who are facing a big impact on cash flow. “

Urban Property Group Managing Director Patrick Elias estimates that 80 to 90% of his company’s workforce is unable to work due to their place of residence.

“We are essentially operating on a small team at the moment and this is both in the office and on site,” Elias said.

Urban Property Group has two major developments – an office building in Burwood and an apartment complex in Penrith – which, between them, would normally have 400 to 500 workers on site.

“Today in Penrith we have 50 and in Burwood we have about 10,” Elias said.

“It means a delay in delivery. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for the moment and but already we expect delays of at least a month.

“But I think more than the physical impact, there is just the uncertainty. What puts the most pressure is not knowing where we are going to be next month.

“We don’t know when we open, where we open and to what capacity. This is the most worrying thing about it.

“If it drags on, this is when things like sunset clauses need to be considered.”

Rick Graf, director of development at Billbergia Group, estimates its workforce is down 50 to 75% depending on the site, assuming it is open.

“Is it difficult? Yes it is. We have sites in all eight LGAs that are closed and will remain so,” Graf said.

“And we have sites outside of the foreclosure LGAs where a significant portion of our construction workforce cannot come to work because they reside in the eight LGAs.

“Even though we have sites reactivated and under construction again, we don’t have anything like a full team of staff to be able to get projects back into the program.”

Mr Graf said that while health and safety is paramount, it is crucial for the emotional and economic well-being of construction workers that they are allowed to travel for employment.

“The economic impact of shutting down the construction industry in the long run is also quite large,” Graf said.

“If the COVID security arrangements can be put in place adequately, we need to initiate as much economic activity as possible. “

He said Billbergia is doing everything possible to operate safe work sites and “is urging our own staff with a $ 100 Bunnings voucher for anyone who gets a jab.”

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