Pay and conditions package at Heathrow Terminal 5 could form basis for national deal if unions agree.
Mechanical and electrical firms are putting together a pioneering plan to harmonise pay and conditions for workers on the £2.5bn Heathrow Terminal 5 project.

If the deal is accepted by the unions at T5 it will form the basis of talks on a national agreement for major projects.

A working group drawn from the senior management of firms that may be involved with T5 is formulating the details of the management’s offer. It is chaired by Stephen Quant, a director at Skanska’s M&E arm Skanska Rashleigh Weatherfoil.

Talks with the unions over are due to begin May.

Negotiations to formulate the employers’ side of a national agreement are being conducted by the Electrical Contractors Association and the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association, who have come together in the Joint Major Contractors Group.

Peter Rimmer, head of industrial relations at the HVCA, said the major projects agreement would reflect the requirements of industrial relations on large, complex sites. He added that BAA was playing a key role in pushing for the deal.

The decision to reach a national agreement has been linked to the creation of Amicus, a merger between electricians’ union the AEEU and Manufacturing Science Finance. One union insider said: “There is a real pressure on the employers to present a united front at the negotiating table now that M&E sector is fully unionised.”

Alex Neagle, head of industrial relations at the Electrical Contractors Association, confirmed that work was in progress on the agreement.

He said major contractors realised that the problems raised by large projects had to be tackled. A BAA spokesman said the agreement would be assessed to see if it could be used as part of a deal already in place for the engineering and construction sectors.

T5 received planning permission last year. Work is due to start on the project in 2002.