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Labour pool plan for Games

NEWS - Games chiefs looking at Heathrow-style pool of workers to ensure critical Olympics jobs are nished on time

THE OLYMPIC Delivery Authority is considering plans to use a pool of shared labour for Olympics contractors to make sure the venues get built on time.

Olympics chiefs are determined to avoid a repeat of the fiasco at Wembley stadium, which will not be ready until next summer, well over a year behind schedule.

Senior ODA figures including chief executive David Higgins are studying how the concept has worked at BAA's Terminal 5 scheme. This is due to f inish on schedule in 2008.

Graeme Bradley, head of engineering and construction at law firm DLA Piper - which is a member of the ODA's legal panel - told a London conference on the Olympics the idea was one of a number being investigated to ensure big projects such as the main stadium, the aquatic centre and the velodrome are ready in time.

He said: 'Shared labour is a concept that worked well with Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.

'It would make eminent sense to handle things this way, considering the difficult labour market problem.'

The idea is that workers will be seconded from less timecritical projects and drafted onto schemes running behind schedule. A source said: 'If something is on the critical path but running behind schedule it will be given extra labour to get it back on track.'

The plan was given a mixed reception by delegates at the briefing, which was organised by Construction News.

Andy Flowerday, a divisional director at civils firm Barhale, said the initiative could work provided it was managed properly.

He added: 'There will be situations when workers who are needed to cover another firm's work for a couple of days will wonder who they're actually working for.

'But there is no reason why you wouldn't be able to sor t that out and I would agree with shared labour. There is an industry-wide problem of resources.

'Rather than competing for the few people that we have available, we should be looking to work together for a project of this size.

'I can see it being particularly useful with groundworks and utility diversions.'

But another boss at a major civils firm said: 'In principle it sounds fine but I can't imagine too many firms would be happy putting their men on another job and bailing a rival out.

'I would have thought they would be pretty annoyed, especially if it means them slipping on their contract as well.'

Main construction work on Olympic Games projects begins in earnest in 2008 and at its peak will see 7,000 workers on the site.