Bag local tradies along with the others

Monday July 31, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor

There has been much debate in recent years regarding the substandard workmanship and the quality of building materials on a number of major buildings that were constructed by Chinese interests, examples include the Ministry of Justice Building and the Ministry of Police Building in Avarua.

Much has been made about the deterioration in these buildings and the ongoing costs of maintaining them and much debate in the community, social media and news has painted and bagged the Chinese in a poor light. Now with the focus on the Nikao school rebuild, the focus has again been on historical workmanship of the Chinese contractors as comments have been bragged about by concerned citizens.

Much has been made of the Chinese and while it may seem justified, the people who are making these comments are for the most part, lay people and they have every right to have their say, after all that is what we have, freedom of speech. However, if you are going to bag the Chinese then you should also bag those others who pass themselves off as tradesmen and who also do shoddy work on our other building sites or in our homes. How come you’re not putting the same energy into bagging them in the news media or on social media? Not saying anything is the same as giving them permission to continue to provide shoddy work. It’s a pity those same ones who are bagging the Chinese have not thought to turn their radar-like focus on the goings on of local Cook Islands contractors or tradesmen. The host who balks has been approached by some unhappy employees of a well-known construction company that has the contract for a number of construction sites in Rarotonga. These workers claim that they are not being paid properly, are working long hours without penal rates, being forced to work in unsafe conditions, been sworn at and abused and to top it all off, are being coerced to use substandard building materials.

The host who balks also understands that there is a history of unsafe practices going on at these sites and that safety is being ignored in the interests of getting these contracts completed on time and within budget. One must ask then, where is the Project Manager or Contract Manager who interfaces between the contractor and the organisation that let the contract. What are they doing, why are they not following up, why are they not enforcing the terms of the contract. One can only assume that the person responsible for ensuring contract compliance is incapable of doing so for a number of compelling reasons, or is unaware of the goings on or is unable to enforce compliance because of substandard contract terms that favour the contractor or is ignoring the conditions under which these people are working.

The host who balks also understands that threats have been made by this same contractor against workers which have been highlighted in previous letters to the editor seemingly in contravention of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption recently ratified by the Cook Islands Government. This contract is one of many that appears to be in contravention of this convention and the host who balks, understands that this contractor does not care, not one iota.

Many of the contracts that have been let on Rarotonga in my experience as a tradesman appear to be in contravention of the most basic of safety principles and that the standard of workmanship and materials is at times not up to a tradesman-like standard. The Unionist understands that the contract for service if any is so full of holes that the principle of the contract has little or no recourse to be able to penalise the contractor. For your information, a tradesman is a time served person who has gone through a recognised apprenticeship, completed the hours and the exams and has proper trade qualifications such as a trade certificate in their chosen field.

A person who has just worked with a tradesman or has no trade qualifications without following a proper course of training is not a tradesman, they are technically journeymen and cannot call themselves tradesmen. Here they do and it shows unfortunately in some of their work in our homes. Just too also let you know, a person with a doctorate or PhD is not a doctor in the strict sense and cannot use the term doctor as it relates to a Doctor of Medicine. They are called by their given name then their qualification, i.e. Joe Bloggs PhD and not Doctor Bloggs, very much like the late Diana Princess of Wales and not Princess Diana.

So all you PhDs out there sorry bout it, you have to come back down to earth with the rest of us plebes. I say this because there are people out there in our paradise who are misrepresenting themselves for Christian, community, family, social and economic enrichment at our expense and at the expense of those who can least afford it, and they need to be exposed for the charlatans and hypocrites that they are.

So if you bag the Chinese for substandard work make sure you also bag the substandard work of local contractors, who have been building and working on or in our homes with shonky practices for years and passing themselves off as tradesmen. Make sure you ask to see their trade qualifications and whether they are a member of a professional body, otherwise their shoddy work may see you out of pocket with little or no avenue to make a small claim. Make sure you speak out about those charlatans and hypocrites in our communities, after all the voice of the small people needs to be heard and this is the only way change will come about for the better. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and you better have all your ducks in a row and be absolutely squeaky clean or what goes round comes round, from the Unionist, the host who balks. 

            Unionist

            (Name and address supplied)

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