Soaring electricians’ pay rates at Heathrow Terminal 5 have not pushed up wages in the rest of the M&E market according to research carried out for Building

The research by consultant Gardiner & Theobald found that “many services contractors have expressed the opinion that labour will not necessarily be attracted away from other areas to work on the major projects such as T5”.

David Hill, the group chief executive of Hills Electrical & Mechanical, agreed that the market had not been affected despite the fact that electricians at T5 could earn more than £50,000 a year. “There are people who would rather be paid less and not have to put up with the aggro and conditions at T5, plus it’s highly unionised and not everyone likes unions.”

Hill added that he had just hired a Scottish project manager from T5 who was prepared to take less money because he wanted to go back home to work.

The research claims that recent wage rate rises and working condition agreements such as the Major Projects Agreement negotiated by the unions were likely to lead to an increase in overall tender price level. It says that other major projects could be subject to similar rates to those at the airport.

There are people who would rather earn less and not have to put up with the aggro and conditions at T5

David Hill, Hills Electrical and Mechanical

Hill said tender prices had risen, but not as quickly as electricians’ wage rates, which have increased 60% because of a shortage of skilled workers, which had put pressure on the company.

“We lost £2.5m last year as we had the commercial pressures of wage increases, plus we were determined to turn over £100m, which isn’t the name of the game,” said Hill. The company is set to break even this year.