Local companies in peril as Pindan collapse ricochets

Building company Pindan was constructing the $43M Walyalup Civic Centre and Library for the City of Fremantle. Picture credit:  Simon Stokes

Building company Pindan was constructing the $43M Walyalup Civic Centre and Library for the City of Fremantle. Picture credit: Simon Stokes

The collapse of WA construction giant Pindan leaves Fremantle’s $270 million Kings Square redevelopment in jeopardy, unions and community groups say.

Pindan, which went into administration on Tuesday, was contracted with the City of Fremantle to construct Kings Square’s centrepiece, the $43M Walyalup Civic Centre.

Although the City insists that the project can be completed without cost blowouts, CFMEU spokesman Simon Stokes says that finding new builders to take over the project will cost millions.

“It’s not just a matter of getting a [new] contractor in and saying ‘oh, finish that,’” Mr Stokes said.

“[The council] is going to have to pay a premium … someone has to identify where it’s up to, re-spec the entire project, and then contract [new] people … this is a multi-million dollar liability for the ratepayers of Fremantle.”

The City of Fremantle said that it is working with Pindan administrators Ernst & Young to determine what needs to be done to finish the work.

“Our building is 90 per cent complete, so while so while this situation is unfortunate we are confident we can continue the program to its successful completion,” a council spokesperson said.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson, who opposed the redevelopment plans when he was a Fremantle councillor, says the City has been left in a precarious position.

“We now have a shut, locked-down building in the centre of town,” Mr Dowson said.

“It’s a sorry mess, and an expensive mess.”

Meanwhile, the CFMEU warns that at least a dozen subcontractors on the site are facing serious financial trouble.

“There are people who have unsecured losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mr Stokes said.

“You will see local people go under.”

The City of Fremantle says that a clause in its contract with Pindan guarantees payment for subcontractors who have worked on the project.

But the City could not confirm if subcontractors who have hired staff and purchased supplies in expectation of future work would be protected.

A spokesperson for Ernst & Young said Pindan had 500 subcontractors across 68 active projects, but it was too early to comment on specific projects.

Mr Stokes said there had been issues at the Kings Square project, with the union had received complaints about unsafe working conditions and a lack of facilities for workers.

Pindan did not respond to questions from The Quenda.

Improperly installed structural steel in the Civic Centre’s roof was fixed by Pindan in October 2020, after the CFMEU complained to WorkSafe.