Construction union Ucatt claimed a historic victory this week after Skanska became the first contractor to require its suppliers to offer their staff pensions.

Although the provision of pensions by specialists has always been implied in contracts, Skanska has become the first main contractor to specifically require this on its £170m Walsall Manor Hospital PFI project.

The current agreement between unions and contractors requires contracts to make reference to a pension scheme known as Easybuild, provided by industry welfare body B&CE. However, contractors have never demanded that specialists contribute to it.

Stephen Quant, Skanska’s human resources director, said: “It is part of our contracts that all workers will get the pensions scheme. The next time we will take the Walsall agreement and develop it further in conjunction with local regional officers at Ucatt.”

Alan Ritchie, the Ucatt general secretary, said: “This is an important step forward in industrial relations. Construction workers deserve a comfortable retirement after many years of hard work. Such model agreements will help them achieve it, and we hope in the future similar clauses will be standard in construction agreements.”

Meanwhile, B&CE is developing an earnings-based construction pension as an alternative to the government’s state second pension.