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T5 strikes called off as unions take deal

Workers win better pay and conditions

STRIKE action at Heathrow's T5 was averted last week following showdown talks between contractor Laing O'Rourke and the construction unions.

Laing O'Rourke's last-ditch peace plan was accepted by the majority of the workforce at an official site meeting last Friday morning after a recommendation by local and national officials to accept it.

Ucatt general secretary George Brumwell said: 'We have tidied up all the outstanding issues and have an agreement.

'The negotiations secured the provision of an on-site health service, safety back-up, a training programme, decent working conditions and decent pay.

'They were tough negotiations, but we have an agreement which points the way forward for a 21st-century construction industry.'

The deal follows weeks of unrest at the site, where operatives were unhappy about the way the initial pay and conditions agreement was working in practice.

All T5 builders will now get 12 long weekends a year when they work for five hours in the morning on a Friday but get paid for a full eight-hour shift, including the guaranteed minimum bonus of £2.08 per hour.

Laing O'Rourke has also negotiated discounted fares on behalf of employees to travel home to various locations in the UK. Plans include chartered flights if there are enough men wanting to go to the same place.

A monthly review of how the controversial bonus scheme is working will be carried out and the data will be analysed every three months.

One senior source said: 'If we find it doesn't work at all we may have to look at a new bonus scheme. But as it is, it hasn't been looked at in any great detail before and some minor tweaking may be necessary.'

One site source said: 'We are happy with the offer, which is better than anything we had before O'Rourke bought Laing.'

Laing O'Rourke also unveiled a number of new benefits that will be available to the workforce, including a new fleet of bendy buses to take them to and from site in comfort.

A new convenience store is due to open on-site this month and the management is also reviewing the quality of service and the menus in the canteens at T5.