Construction workers no longer have highest wage increases as average wage rise remains at 3.5%.

Construction workers have been knocked off the top of the UK’s pay rise league table for the first time in five years, a survey has revealed.

The sector’s 3.5% average pay increase in 2004/5 - the same percentage as the previous year - was beaten into third place by the 3.75% increase enjoyed by workers in the finance and transport and communications industries.

However the pay rises of the UK’s construction workers are still above the 3% average rise for the rest of the economy, according to the annual survey by pay specialists Industrial Relations Services.

The survey, covering the period from 1 September 2004 to 31 April 2005, found that the lowest quarter of pay increases were around 3% while the highest quarter about 4.5%.

It said that many of the rises were based on industry-wide pay deals, such as the 2005 stage of the construction industry Joint Industry Council deal for general, skilled and craft workers which saw minimum rates rise by 9.5% and the deal for the engineering construction industry which put up pay for unskilled, semi skilled and craft workers by 4.5%.

A spokesman for the Construction Confederation said skills shortages and a buoyant construction market had driven pay increases over several years but increases could be starting to flatten. He said: “Historically it needed to catch up and it has probably done that now.” He said there were signs that the market was beginning to slow which could also put the brakes on wage rises.