Redundancies could be on the table for those building the delayed billion-dollar Transmission Gully project, meanwhile close to 100 workers are still stuck overseas due to Covid-19.
It comes after the Transport Agency admitted sections of the 27-kilometre stretch of road needed to be re-laid after an error, and contractors aired concerns about the way the project is being managed.
The troubled four-lane motorway project has already blown its budget and is significantly delayed.
It's being built through a public-private partnership, the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP), with CPB Contractors and HEB Construction sub-contracted to carry out the design and construction.
Amalgamated Workers Union NZ National Secretary Maurice Davis said he received the proposition of 98 redundancies from CPB on Friday.
There was some discussion over the weekend and then the proposal was withdrawn on Sunday so CPB could negotiate with NZTA and hopefully come to a resolution, he said.
Davis said he understood the negotiations related to the payment of previously agreed settlement money.
Earlier this year it was revealed the cost of the project blew out to more than $1 billion after NZTA agreed to pay the contractor another $190.6 million in a settlement over delays by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, and flooding around the same time.
Davis said it appeared NZTA and CPB have had a "falling out" and the project was "way behind" schedule.
"Those workers are the meat in the sandwich in between a battle of wills between NZTA and CPB, that's what it boils down to and that's the sad thing about this unseemly stoush.
"We've got to stand aside and let the private part of the partnership talk to the public side and hopefully they can come to a resolution."
The New Zealand Transport Agency said as it was still in commercial negotiations with the joint venture, it was not able to provide further detail or comment at this stage.
"We understand that there is a high level of interest in the project, and we will provide further information as soon as we're in a position to do so", a spokeswoman said.
CIMIC, which is CPB's Australian parent company, declined to comment.
Davis said the situation at Transmission Gully highlighted the dangers of public private partnerships.
"At the end of the day the taxpayers are going to have to pay for it one way or the other."
Following the Covid-19 lockdown, the road is now not expected to open until 2021 at the earliest.
Work resumed on several sites in the project at the beginning of this month as virus restrictions eased.
However, a significant portion of the site engineering and supervision team, about 80 roles, and some of the operations personnel, are at home overseas after leaving the country due to the uncertainty of Covid-19.
They include stabilisation crew members and paver operators.
NZ Transport Agency project delivery senior manager Andrew Thackwray said at the time that work was underway to develop a new delivery plan as quickly as possible, utilising local resources.