Major Projects Agreement results in low labour turnover with no time lost to industrial disputes

Despite all the lost baggage and cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 5, the m&e work has been a resounding success, according to a report from consultant Baker Mallett.

The study examines the Major Projects Agreement (MPA), which covered m&e work on the site from April 2004 to February 2008.

According to MPA secretary Steve Brawley, the m&e programme benefited greatly from the agreement, which offered leading wages of up to £50 000 in return for stable relations and improved productivity. The project also boasted a staff turnover of just 5.4%, compared with the average of 15%.

“An analysis of first-tier suppliers – SPIE Mathew Hall, Balfour Kilpatrick, Crown House and Hotchkiss – found labour turnover at T5 was very low,” said the report.

Brawley commented: “You’re not constantly replacing people who have left, so you don’t have to go through a big learning curve every Monday with a guy who’s just arrived.”

According to Baker Mallett, 9,630,892 hours were worked by electricians and plumbers, compared with an original budget of six million.

There was no time lost to disputes, and agency labour amounted to less than 20%.

T5 is the only job to have adopted the MPA so far. It was rejected on the 2012 Olympic Games, and there are no projects lined up for the future.

Brawley remains confident that the agreement is a worthwhile investment.

“It’s not too expensive because the returns you get should cover the original payments. With the labour market being as it is, over the next couple of years you’ll be paying over the standard rate anyway to get your labour and keep it.

“I’d argue that you will have to pay more, but if you’re going to pay more either way, get something back.”