“Supportive” work culture and partnership between client and unions provides a blueprint, MP argues

Tessa Jowell

Tessa Jowell

The “socially responsible” approach taken in constructing the 2012 Olympic Park should become a model for new public-public partnerships, Labour’s Tessa Jowell said today.

Delivering a keynote speech on Friday, the shadow minister for the Olympics said the fostering of a partnership between the client and unions and a “supportive” work culture was instrumental in ensuring that the Games had been delivered on time and under budget.

“The story of the Olympic construction is a success story for British business,” Jowell said.

“A project twice the size of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was built in half the time and half a billion pounds under budget.

“A strong business legacy and potential area of export growth has been created  - with new capacity created for Britain to compete in construction and project management.”

Jowell - a key figure in bringing the Games to London in 2005 - claimed that “new ways of working” had been created by the 2012 Olympic project which would drive further success in the industry.

She said:  “The first lesson is that a public-private partnership should seek to create a higher purpose than the bottom line. During the Olympic construction project, this…created a supportive culture within the workforce that ‘failure was not an option’ and that everything had to be done to make the project a success.

Building 2012 HP button

“The second lesson is that the employer and trade unions need to be engaged in co-operation rather than confrontation. And what did this mean? An organisational culture where problems were identified rather than hidden.

“Ways of working that engaged all staff in horizontal decision making rather than a simple top-down approach. A serious approach to health and safety – meaning that there was not a single fatality or serious accident on the entire project.

“But perhaps the biggest lesson that can be drawn is that it makes business sense to invest in your workforce. Investing in apprenticeships, training opportunities and other investments in skills not only gave thousands of employees the prospect of a better future, but also increased the efficiency of the delivery operation.”

Jowell was speaking at the Euroconstruct conference in central London.