BMS agency workers issue employers with 48-hour ultimatum over non-payment of new London rates

Wembley stadium has been hit by a fresh industrial dispute after 500 electricians issued employers with an ultimatum over wages.

The workers, employed by agency BMS, claim they are not receiving pay increases in line with revised London rates. At a meeting on Tuesday they called on BMS to resolve the situation in 48 hours or face industrial action.

The unrest comes after the London minimum wage for electricians, determined by the Joint Industry Board, was raised 60p at the start of the year to £13.42 an hour. Several employment agencies across the capital have not yet agreed to bring in the increase, which workers feel they are morally bound to honour, although there is no legal obligation.

M&E union Amicus has now sent letters to M&E firms across the capital urging them to adhere to the rate.

BMS has received a letter from the union, as have other firms working on the Wembley stadium in north-west London such as MJ Quinn, Phoenix, Daltech and Honeywell.

A site source at Wembley said: “The BMS workers are angry that tax hikes and no wage increases means they are getting less take-home pay.

“They have issued BMS with 48 hours’ notice that they don’t want to work unless they are paid properly, and they have elected a shop steward.”

The BMS workers are also consulting union representatives over the legality of the National Insurance payments being charged, as some allege they are paying more than the standard rate.

Employment agencies are morally bound to pay the going rate

Frank Westerman, Amicus

Frank Westerman, Amicus regional officer, said: “The BMS issue is part of a wider situation in London.

“Employment agencies are morally bound to pay workers the going rate so that they receive the same as the directly employed workers on site. I think the issue is whether the first tier companies will instruct the agencies to pay.”

If BMS does agree to pay the increase at Wembley it is likely to seek to recover the money from contractors Phoenix and Honeywell, as it operates on their behalf.

This will place further strain on the project’s finances. Building learned this week that Phoenix is receiving financial assistance from Multiplex, the main contractor for the stadium, to help it pay the spiralling costs of electrical work.

Sources at Phoenix confirmed this week that the company was being given assistance by Multiplex to enable it to complete work on the project, which has been hit by delays and soaring cost overruns. It is understood that other firms may also be receiving assistance from Multiplex.

Brian Ingram, Phoenix’s Wembley director, said: “I wouldn’t say Multiplex are propping us up, but it is treating us fairly. It recognise there are cost implications on the project.”

A senior source at the company added: “We sat down and told Multiplex that the work is costing us so much because of the overruns.

“We are not in a position to take a big hit and Multiplex has been very fair and realised that. We have agreed various measures with them.”

This week at Wembley

  • 500 electrical workers threaten BMS agency over pay increases
  • M&E union Amicus contacts London firms, including five Wembley companies, warning that the non-payment of industry wage rises may lead to industrial unrest
  • Multiplex offers assistance to electrical contractor Phoenix to enable it to cope with rising costs