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T5's pay saga

2005 REVIEW

BAA and the big contractors working at Heathrow's Terminal 5 have been keen to sing the praises of ground-breaking industrial relations agreements to keep the troops happy.

So, then ? a trouble-free year for the £4.2 billion project, you might reasonably expect? Fat chance. The first rumblings began when 500 sparks on the job employed under the Major Projects Agreement won an extra £1 an hour deal to compensate for the travelling time involved across the vast site.

Of course BAA ? keen to stave off a host of similar claims from thousands of others on the site ? dressed this up as a 'performance bonus' miraculously granted when Amicus dropped its claims for a travel allowance.

But the rest of T5's workforce were not fooled.

First up were 150 steelworkers employed under the Naeci blue book, who put in for their own £1-an-hour bonus. BAA batted them away saying that the claim was outside the terms of the Naeci but the steelworkers balloted for strike action and then promptly won an arbitration battle to claim the award. Where now for the Naeci agreement?

In October Laing O'Rourke's 900 civils workers on the job joined the party. The unions said that the fall-back bonus on the job had not been revised for three years and they were looking for ? yes, you've guessed it ? an extra £1 an hour.

Another strike ballot, more consternation from employers, and two days of strike action planned after this month.

All plain sailing, then.