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From front page

we could face bankruptcy and 30,000 workers could be out of work. This is not a good time to be out of work on the streets in Thailand.

'I'm 62 years old and I've worked in most countries in the world. I have never seen anything like this.'

A Siam Syntech spokesman said he believed there was a 'distinct possibility' NWWI was about to walk away.

He said: 'Basically, what they are saying is that they feel that they have been badly treated and they have had enough.

'It looks as if they will walk away and let the lawyers sort it out.'

He attacked NWWI's record on the job.

He said: 'They came over here without much experience and now they are paying the penalty. They don't understand the business of contracting and how you work to budget and keep costs down. They spent money like water.'

A Bangkok Metropolitan Authority spokesman said: 'We are trying to find out the reason they have stopped work. We believe it is their problem, not ours.'

One Thai subcontractor told Construction News: 'It's a concern to us that United Utilities appears to be prepared to dump its obligations in Thailand. Their argument with the BMA is separate to our subcontract. We have an agreement with them and they should honour it.'

He said the company had already been forced to lay off 100 staff.

He said: 'Things are tough here anyway. This just adds to it.'