A wave of Perth tradesmen stormed a building site after construction firm Cooper & Oxley locked the gate, preventing them from getting their tools back. In a statement released on Monday, the company said that it would be reviewing its ‘financial viability’. ‘This step has been taken while the company continues to conduct an urgent review of its financial position. ‘The company has been working with its stakeholders, including financiers and key clients, to undertake a restructure and refinance process.’ As you might be able to guess, what this has meant in practice is that Cooper & Oxley’s subcontractors are currently unsure about whether the company, which is known for taking on seven-figure projects, will be paying them what they are owed.
As if that were not bad enough, the subcontractors were also told that they would not be allowed to collect their tools; instead, they were asked to send a list of any gear they wanted to reclaim, but those affected said that they never heard back. WA Building Commissioner Ken Bowron said that while the Industry Department was investigating Cooper & Oxley, there was “no previous information” which suggested that the firm was in trouble. ABC released footage of the ticked off tradies as they grappled with security at one of Cooper & Oxley’s locked-down sites. After the two-meter mesh fence was unhitched, dozens of workers made their way inside. Police soon arrived on the scene, but rather than take the side of the outnumbered security guards they instead informed them that the tradies had a right to collect their property. Thousands of dollars worth of equipment was recovered, giving those affected a chance to keep making a living while they wait for updates. One subcontractor told ABC that he was owed $800,000 by the company.