Employers and trade unions have set up a working party to address the construction industry's pension problems as part of a pay deal agreed last week.

Months of negotiations between employers and unions on the Construction Industry Joint Council Working Rule agreement were settled last week, giving craft workers a 14.5% pay increase. As part of the deal, the minimum pension contribution was increased to £3 a week, and a working party was set up to agree further improvements to the pension scheme by next summer.

Alan Ritchie, UCATT general secretary, said: "Employers will benefit from the continuity that a multi-year deal gives the industry and we have achieved significant improvements in the pay and conditions for those workers covered by the agreement."

Under the deal negotiated by the Construction Confederation and unions UCATT, T&G and GMB, minimum basic craft rates will rise from £9 an hour to £10.30 an hour over three years.

The agreement also increases the starting pay rate for apprentices from £146.25 a week to £151.37 to encourage more young workers into the industry.

Gerry Lean, Construction Confederation director of industrial relations, said the deal represented a long-term commitment which gave security for the workforce while allowing firms to plan ahead.