10 February 2000 | Elizabeth Bellamy
The Construction Industry Board (CIB) is considering setting up a complaints commission in a bid to make contractors comply with its tendering and project management code.
"Until now, we've relied on promoting the code and contractors complying with it voluntarily," said Janine Michael, CIB operations manager. "We feel there should be more take up."
Compliance with the six-part code of practice - launched two years ago to improve the performance of clients, consultants, and main and specialist contractors in the industry - has been slow, Michael added.
A recent CIB survey found that just one-third of its members were using the code, while another third were not even aware of its existence.
Specialist-contractor representative body the Construction Liaison Group (CLG), which also represents electricians, plumbers and roofers, said that main contractors were the most likely not to comply.
Marion Rich, CLG executive committee member, said that members have complained of main contractors inviting up to 20 sub-contractors to tender for work, although the code recommends a maximum of four.
She said there have also been reports of unfair Dutch auctioning, where contractors had been asked to offer a reduced price for their work after they had placed their original bid.
Rich added that, despite problems in spreading awareness of the code, it was "difficult to give contractors an incentive for using it" once they did know about it.
The CLG would like to see non-compliant contractors prosecuted or publicly named and shamed, she said. "There needs to be some form of redress, but the complaints commission would need to have teeth."
Michael said it was difficult to say what kind of power a new commission would have, but that it would act as "more of a stick than a carrot".
A spokesperson for construction firm Amec, a main contractor on the £60-million Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, rejected calls for a commission, although he accepted there was a need for the industry to work together more closely. He said the company had not acted in breach of the code.
A CIB task force, which has been set up to investigate the feasibility of a complaints body, is due to report back in six months' time.