You may think the Square Mile loses little sleep over the pay and conditions enjoyed by bosses of mere contractors. Think again. In the past two months, the National Association of Pension Funds has demanded that Ian Grice, the next chief executive of Alfred McAlpine, be given a shorter notice period. And the pay packet of Jarvis chairman Paris Moayedi has been under the spotlight. He has forgone £104,000 – about four times the average construction worker's annual wage – in bonuses until the cause of the Potters Bar rail crash had been found.
The figures gathered in this year's Top 100 table (see page 22 and pages 44-65) show that construction has had a similar boom in executive pay to that experienced across UK industry. Since 1995, the average salary of the leading firms' highest paid directors has increased 104% to a cool £432,000. Cue predictable howls of disgust from unions. But how are staff supposed to feel? Their pay has risen only 47% in the same period – and remember that the bosses are getting a much bigger slice of a much bigger pie. They have £200,000 more; the average worker has £8700.
That said, there is a consensus within the City and the general public that good managers deserve to be paid well. The problem is that directors seem to get lavish rewards for performances that would get their employees a month's wages and their P45s. What the sector needs is the kind of system used at companies such as Countryside and Berkeley Homes, where wages are tied directly to corporate performance. As well as raising morale among those lower down the ladder, it would encourage risk-taking and ambition among bosses – qualities that are at a premium in our industry.
The secret history of T5When Terminal 5 opens its doors to the travelling public in 2008, it should be a fine addition to one of the world’s busiest airports. But, like many airport buildings, if it works, travellers won’t give it a second glance – the most BAA can hope for is that some register the scale of the thing. What is certain is that they will have no inkling of the gargantuan effort the team of designers and specialist contractors went through to make the building a commercial and architectural success (pages 36-42). They had to take a design that was created when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, Nelson Mandela was a prisoner and Helmut Kohl was chancellor of a country called West Germany – and then make it workable for an aviation industry that had undergone 15 years of rapid change and is in seemingly permanent crisis. That they pulled it off is a tribute to their professionalism and tenacity – and it makes a great story.
Phil Clark, deputy editor