Frost hits small construction companies hard

Building firms may get into financial difficulty because they have to pay staff even though they cannot work because it is too cold, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Wednesday.

Construction companies have already been hit hard by the financial crisis and have few buffers left to absorb the cost of a hard winter, the paper says.
In 2007, the building sector scrapped its collective fund to help companies hit by severe weather, but did agree contract staff should be paid even if it is too cold to work.
Henk Klein Poelhuis of the Dutch contractors’ association fears up to 25% of his 1,700 members may go bankrupt if the frost continues.
He wants the government to allow building firms to lay off staff on a temporary basis so they can claim unemployment benefit.
However, the much larger construction sector organisation Bouwend Nederland opposes that move, the paper says. BN offers its own weather insurance scheme to members.
Building workers unions say they are concerned that workers will become the victims of the dispute between the employers’ organisations and say some members are being forced to work in freezing conditions.
ABN Amro did offer an insurance policy for building firms but dropped it because of the low take up.
Pay deal
The paper says many small contractors are now considering dropping out of the construction sector pay deal because it is dominated by big firms.
For example, the roofers association, with 3,000 members, is looking at setting up its own collective pay scheme. And the 1,700-strong contractors association is following developments with interest, spokeswoman Truus Remkes said.

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