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Unions are killing T5 pay progress


WORKERS and unions at Heathrow's T5 are in grave danger of stopping industrial relations progress dead in its tracks.

Laing O'Rourke's team of more than 900 operatives is set to hold a strike ballot over disputed bonus payments.

But what exactly are they complaining about?

The row is over guaranteed bonus levels above and beyond their current deal, which comfortably makes them the best-paid civils operatives in the country.

T5 is a world-class project boasting the best safety standards and site conditions available.

Construction workers also signed a groundbreaking pay deal at the start of the project that saw £50,000 pay packets become commonplace.

BAA decided to revolutionise the delivery of major projects by paying well and demanding direct employment from O'Rourke.

So how have they been repaid?

By a squalid row over bonus money, sparked off by seeing other trades screw more cash out of their employers with the threat of strike action.

The unions have encouraged the latest dispute, but what effect do they think this will have in the long run?

Will other clients offer industry-best pay and conditions deals if all they get in return is industrial unrest and demands for more cash?

Of course workers have been exploited over the years. But this is not the case at T5 and there will be precious little sympathy on other sites for strike threats by Britain's best-paid builders.

The T5 deal was heralded as a breakthrough for industrial relations in the industry.

It will be a waste of the progress made so far to see it remembered for disintegrating into a money-grabbing squabble.