The delay-hit Aberdeen bypass was at the centre of a fresh controversy yesterday amid claims that workers had to pay to receive their wages.
Scottish Labour said it had evidence of the practice on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) and produced payslips of former Carillion employees.
Party leader Richard Leonard challenged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take action to stop workers on major public contracts from being “blatantly exploited”.
The revelation emerged at Holyrood at the same time as a row erupted over the timetable for the completion of the £745million scheme.
The Press and Journal reported yesterday that contractor Balfour Beatty had admitted that the spring completion date had been pushed back to the summer following the collapse of consortium partner Carillion.
But Scottish ministers faced questions over why parliament and local authorities had not been informed about the schedule change.
Aberdeen City Council’s co-leaders Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden wrote to the consortium to say they were “shocked by this information given your recent reassurance that the AWPR would open in spring 2018”.
Aberdeenshire East SNP MSP Gillian Martin also wrote to both the consortium and Economy Secretary Keith Brown seeking meetings “so we can bring clarity over this issue to the people of the north-east who are eagerly awaiting the AWPR’s opening”.
Local Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said “it appears the minister has been left playing catch up”.
And Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have always been clear that large-scale, complex developments like this can be affected by delays.
“What isn’t acceptable is to impact on the ability of local businesses to plan appropriately by not providing clarity about any delays far enough in advance.”
Meanwhile, Mr Leonard used first minister’s questions at Holyrood to reveal that former Carillion workers had been charged up to £100 to claim their wages from umbrella firms.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “Redacted pay slips from workers on the flagship Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project show that they were being charged for the privilege of being paid.
“Workers have been blatantly exploited on a contract funded by the SNP government. SNP ministers now must take steps to ensure this never happens again.”
Ms Sturgeon said she “condemned any company” making workers pay to receive wages but insisted that many of the problems were due to employment law being reserved to Westmimster.
“The Scottish Labour Party have long opposed employment law being devolved to this parliament,” she added.