In response to your question “Are specialists right to get tough?” (15 April, page 15) I am surprised that it has taken them this long.

For far too long subcontractors have gone cap in hand for crumbs from the main contractor’s table, accepting their lot as members of an underclass. The many cases of strong-arm tactics being used on subbies have to end. Not only should payments be ringfenced but the practice of “sign this contract (including all the onerous clauses) or don’t get paid” should also end.

Subcontractors should take more care in credit control and not expose themselves in any one project to more than they can afford to lose. They should also, through their associations, insist on standard specialist contracts (such as those that are insisted upon by the lift companies). This will give them adequate safeguards. Chasing work and breaking rank will allow main contractors to ride roughshod over them.

I have always advised subbies not to give discounts without obtaining something in return, not to underprice work just to keep going and always to insist on fortnightly payments when large sums are involved. I see no reason why the subbie should bankroll the work.

I should add that these opinions are mine and not necessarily those of Adeo Consulting.

Peter Duckett, estimating manager, Adeo Consulting