Pickets claim principal contractor should honour subcontractor’s outstanding pay bill on London college.
Work on part of the £200m private finance initiative redevelopment of King’s College in London stopped this week after 200 workers staged a picket outside the scheme’s Cornwall House site.

Up to 100 workers claim they are owed £2000 each in wages by Danish M&E contractor Dahl Jensen, whose contract with principal contractor Bouygues was terminated on Tuesday following a disagreement between the two.

Former employees of Dahl Jensen said the company had “bounced” a number of pay cheques and were demanding that Bouygues pay them their outstanding money.

A spokesperson for Bouygues said the dispute had nothing to do with it. However, the French construction giant is understood to have offered construction union UCATT, which is negotiating for the workers, a deal under which electricians and fitters would be given a one-off payment of about £1000, with labourers receiving about £700.

Project sources said Bouygues is anxious to avoid any delay on its flagship PFI project, which must be completed this year. But scheme project manager Roy Simkins, an associate director of Heery International, said the dispute had already caused delays.

Simkins said: “It’s already delaying the project. Yesterday afternoon we discussed handover dates with Bouygues. Now we have seven lorry loads of equipment that should have been delivered to Cornwall House, so our movement programme has been upset.”

Dahl Jensen haven’t been paying and their people are somewhat aggrieved

Bill Slade, project director, King’s COllege

He added: “The building is in the middle of commissioning; problems can arise at this stage, and without the M&E contractor at hand, you cannot put them right very easily.”

King’s College vice-principal and redevelopment project director Bill Slade said Bouygues was trying to contact Dahl Jensen to resolve the situation at the site.

“It’s a bit of a problem and it’s worrying for the main contractor and ourselves because we are progressively moving into the building. I’m not in a position to speculate how it’s going to be dealt with, but we are in touch with Bouygues and are confident they will do whatever is appropriate in the circumstances.”

He added: “As I understand the situation, Dahl Jensen haven’t been paying their people and their people are somewhat aggrieved. The principal contractor is trying to contact Dahl Jensen at the moment.”