Joint industry council stalls on new agreement after FMB ‘seeks pay freeze’ for site workers

Small builders are trying to block pay rises in the latest round of talks between the Federation of Master Builders and Unite.

The talks are taking place in the Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC), which each year recommends standard wage rates for FMB members, and is commonly used for site workers undertaking repair and maintenance.

The levels are usually announced in March, three months before they come into force. But sources close to the negotiations say this year’s deal could be months away as the FMB is pushing for a freeze, the first in the council’s history.

This is the second year that the wage announcement has been held up. Last year fears over the downturn meant an agreement was not announced until 27 May, three weeks before employers were expected to implement the new rates.

Rob Gutteridge Construction, a member of the FMB, said it was concerned about the delay and was “desperately hoping” for a pay freeze.

Rob Gutteridge, the firm’s managing director, said: “If the increase goes above what we’re hoping for, it could have a profound impact on the business, especially if we’re given less than a month to prepare for it.

“Even three months is often not enough. When you’re placing a project, you need to be able to take wages into account; you also need to set a budget for the rest of the year.”

A union source confirmed that an agreement had yet to be reached. “This year is going to be difficult for all wage negotiations,” he said.

BATJIC sits alongside other wage agreements such as Joint Conciliation Committee of the Heating, Ventilating and Domestic Engineering Industry which is due out later this year. They are also understood to be considering pay freezes.

The FMB said it could not comment while discussions were continuing.