The boss of collapsed Owen Pugh Group has blamed the firm’s closure on ”bullying tactics” used in the construction industry.
Last week administrators were called in and 257 staff at the Dudley-based firm were made redundant, including staff for the group’s civil engineering arm. Owen Pugh Aggregates, which runs Marsden Quarry near Sunderland, is the only branch of the group continuing to operate while a buyer is sought.
Former chair of the group John Dickson, who lost his home as a result of the company’s financial problems, told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle that ”bullying tactics” from some main contractors and bad luck were to blame.
“I’ve gone through three years of absolute hell trying to keep the business going and I’ve done everything I possibly could to make things work but it’s not been enough. We’ve had the most extraordinary bad luck and this is a particularly tough industry at a particularly tough time,” he told the paper.
“I have to say that some of the companies we’ve worked for have shown a complete lack of moral scruples. Some of the main contractors are often just bullies.
“In most industries you will put in an invoice for your work and expect to be paid for 95% of it; we were sometimes getting 10 or 15%. The law allows companies to do that and there’s no incentive to behave properly. We could go to adjudication, but it would cost us £50,000 before it even started and all we’d get back is the original sum. There’s no penalty for the bad behaviour.
“This doesn’t happen in other countries and it doesn’t happen in other industries. It’s a thing that happens in construction.”
Nine employees remain working at the group’s head office to help administrators. The company was founded in 1946 as a specialist in construction plant hire before branching out into wider construction and engineering work.