Broad Construction has been accused of sending small North West contractors to the wall amid accusations of mismanagement of the construction of a recreation centre, part of Rio Tinto's $200 million refurbishment of the Pilbara town of Wickham.
At least three subcontractors have gone to the wall during the construction of the Wickham building, being built as a mess hall and recreation centre for fly-in, fly-out workers at Rio Tinto's Dampier operations.
They blame Broad, which is managing the estimated $40 million job, saying the Leighton Holdings subsidiary had disputed invoices even after project engineers and Broad's own supervisors had signed off on them.
Originally due to be completed in March, the recreation centre is six months behind schedule and subcontractors say they believe Broad is withholding payments to avoid booking a loss on the job.
One landscaping and construction contractor told _WestBusiness _ he was forced to declare bankruptcy after a $386,000 invoice he submitted turned into a $166,000 bill from Broad, because of disputed back charges.
Johnny Meo, who ran his business as a sole trader, said he had been paid about $415,000 of a contract initially worth about $1 million.
Even after calling in lawyers and accepting a $160,000 cut to the contract value, Mr Meo claims Broad refused to pay his final accounts and instead presented him with a bill for $166,000 after stripping almost $592,000 from the value of work done in back charges.
Mr Meo said he still owed creditors at least $400,000 for work at Wickham but had run out of money to fight the matter in court and now risked losing his house.
He said the biggest single back charge from Broad, $262,000 for allegedly faulty work on the building's slab, was delivered after project engineers had signed off on the work.
"What Broad has done is mismanage the job completely, and then try and make their subbies pay," he said.
"Broad has run my business into the ground."
It is understood at least two other companies, the plumbing and the electrical contractors, called in administrators during construction.
_WestBusiness _ spoke to other subcontractors who said they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr Meo said because the work was being performed for Rio, the giant should intervene.
A Rio spokesman said the company was aware of the situation and hoped the parties could work together to resolve the issues.
A Broad spokeswoman said the company treated "all subcontractors with respect" and delays were in line with the client's changes to scope of the work."Broad is continuing to work with all subcontractors to finalise their accounts appropriately and promptly," she said.