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THE MONTH was marked by a fever of discontent as the largest construction industry dispute in years threatened to hit sites across the country. Up to 4,000 electricians were expected to down tools as the AEEU enraged shop stewards by pushing ahead with a ballot of members on a deal that had previously been rejected.

In a bid to stem the general rise in site disputes Bovis began working on a peace plan to stop problems developing between themselves and M&E firms. A number of proposals were put forward in a series of meetings between the firm and its M&E sub-contractors.

There was more gloom as consultants warned Railtrack faced huge cost overruns on its £1 billion station refurbishment programme. Construction firms blamed management while subcontractors working on station improvements claimed working for Railtrack was a 'licence to lose money'.

The water industry was also shaken by the universal skills shortage, which looked set to stymie plans to cut leaks in the ailing mains network.