Mayor in talks with T&G and UCATT over plan to force Olympics firms to offer generous pay and conditions.
London mayor Ken Livingstone is set to hold talks with construction unions over the introduction of Heathrow Terminal 5-style pay and conditions clauses in contracts for Olympics work.
The pay deal for workers on T5 made national headlines two years ago after it emerged that skilled workers could earn £55,000 a year.
Livingstone has asked the unions to work with the Greater London Authority to establish common standards for all companies working on the Olympics. This is intended to ensure that they meet best practice on employment conditions such as wages, health and safety.
The T&G union and UCATT have already held meetings with the GLA over the issue and it is believed that Livingstone may become involved in future meetings.
Bob Blackman, the T&G’s national officer for the construction sector, confirmed that Livingstone had contacted the unions to discuss a code of practice for companies employed on Olympic schemes.
He said: “Ken Livingstone approached me and my deputy and asked us to meet his office over employment terms on Olympic contracts, which we have now done, together with UCATT. The mayor has taken a personal interest in the issue because of the responsibility the GLA now has for construction.”
Representatives from the T&G and UCATT held an initial meeting with Redmond O’Neill, a policy director of the GLA, to discuss the proposals. The unions are in the process of arranging other meetings, which Livingstone may attend.
The GLA has a strong voice on the Olympics Development Authority, which is running the games, and Livingstone will therefore be a key figure in the run-up to 2012.
Blackman said the commitments made in the code needed to be binding on employers, noting: “The only way to get firms to stick to standards such as these is if they become contractual obligations. Unless it’s an official requirement, it doesn’t happen.”
Jerry Swain, UCATT’s regional secretary for London and the South East, said he was pleased with the reception the proposals had received. He said: “We are awaiting an official response to our suggestions but we expect the GLA to be favourable.”
Swain added that UCATT would also be contacting Sebastian Coe, the head of the Olympics organising committee, to ensure that he supported the initiative.
The GLA said: “The mayor’s office has held a constructive meeting with construction trade unions regarding the promotion of best practice in the industry in relation to the London Olympic Games in 2012.”