CONSTRUCTION workers at Heathrow's new Terminal Five complex have won significant gains over working hours that will enable them to have something approaching a family life. Bosses of construction firm Laing O'Rourke caved in at the end of last week under the pressure of a strike ballot planned by the GMB union and of threatened wildcat walkouts by the 1,500 workers on the site.
Officials of the three unions representing the workers-the GMB, TGWU and Ucatt-were told of the improved offer after marathon talks with the company. Workers endorsed it at a mass meeting on Friday of last week. Under the deal the Friday shift will be reduced every four weeks. That will allow workers who have travelled from as far as Aberdeen, Newcastle and South Wales, to return to see their families.
The workers live on the site in caravans. They will also receive travel allowances and the company is to charter planes to get workers home for the weekend.
The victory comes after BA check-in staff at Heathrow also pushed back a management attempt to introduce new working arrangements that would hit time spent with family and friends.
The spirit of militancy has also spread to drivers working for Select Plant Hire, who held an unofficial 40-strong meeting in a car park at the terminal. They are angry that they have to pay for their own lodgings.
Electricians working for construction giant Amec at the site are also up in arms over delays in introducing a national framework on pay and conditions on major projects.
One electrician said, 'The lads want the deal here. If it is not introduced all hell will break loose.'