Construction unions have signed a groundbreaking industrial relations agreement to build the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The project will be the largest single site construction project in Britain with 5,000 workers employed at the peak of construction.
After months of negotiating, unions UCATT, Unite and GMB have secured agreement with the client EDF Energy and the principal contractors Bouygues Laing O’Rourke for a 'Common Framework Agreement' which addresses how industrial relations will be managed and a 'Civil Engineering Sector Agreement'.
The 'Common Framework Agreement' establishes how industrial relations will be managed on the project and guarantees that the signatory unions will be provided with the necessary facilities to ensure workers are treated fairly.
In an important step to combat casualisation and poor productivity the site will only directly employ workers through Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE). For the first time in such an agreement there will also be strict rules placed on the recruitment of workers through employment agencies. A top of the range occupational health scheme will be established to help ensure the short-term and long-term health of the construction workforce.
The agreement also makes clear that the training of traditional apprenticeships and adult trainees will be a priority. A target of training at least 500 apprentices and adult trainees during the lifetime of the project has been set.
The 'Civil Engineering Sector Agreement' establishes pay rates for the workforce which are significantly above those agreed by the Construction Industry Joint Council. By the time work begins, which is expected to be in 2014, the craft rate will be at least £13 an hour.
The agreement also sets out provision for a bonus scheme, a productivity scheme and milestone payments, laying the foundations for what will be the best paid construction project the industry has seen.
In another first the agreement establishes clear rules to ensure that workers will make and receive significant pension payments while working on the project. Pension payments will begin at £10 per week of matched funding between employers and employees. By January 2017 workers will see an amount equal to 10 per cent of their pay being placed in their pensions, through five per cent matched funding from employees and employers.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of construction union UCATT, said: “This groundbreaking agreement will ensure that workers building Hinkley Point will receive excellent rates of pay and first class conditions. This agreement will act as the blueprint for all future major construction projects.”
Kevin Coyne, Unite national officer for energy and utilities, said: “A new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point will be a significant milestone towards meeting Britain's low carbon energy needs. We're pleased that progress towards a greener future is also characterised by good pay and conditions for thousands of highly skilled workers. The agreement reached between the unions and employers is the result of intense but constructive negotiations.
“This agreement sends a clear message to the rest of the construction industry that good productive relationships can deliver positive results. The unions and employers have made real progress in laying the right foundations for this important project. It is now time for the government to stop delaying and give EDF the certainty it needs so the company can get on with the job of meeting the UK's energy needs.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB construction officer, said: “The two agreements signed by all three unions involved will ensure that workers building the first in a new generation of nuclear power stations will be directly employed, well rewarded, and treated with respect and dignity supported by the trade unions under the structures negotiated over the past 12 months or so with EDF.”
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.