The industrial relations agreement covering the 2012 Olympic Games construction project has been dismissed as a “load of waffle” by industry experts.
The deal was concluded after a nine-month dispute between union leaders and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) about demands for 100% direct employment on the London 2012 site.
The compromise agreement, seen by Personnel Today’s sister title Contract Journal, states: “In order that the best employment practice is achieved, the parties to this agreement commit to the ethos of a directly employed workforce.
“If unavoidable circumstances occur in respect of direct employment, despite the best endeavours of the employer, then the ODA and Trade Union Programme Review Group is committed to discussion and resolution of the impact and circumstances of such occurrences.”
The wording has baffled some industry experts. One said: “It’s just a load of waffle, which doesn’t really say anything.
“All this does is cloud the issue and it could be storing up trouble if things are left to be resolved once the job proper has got under way.”
Other observers believe the unions have actually weakened their position. One expert said: “At the start, the unions were offered a wording that committed to direct employment ‘where reasonably practicable’.
“That is a stronger position than the eventual outcome. This new clause just means disputes will go before yet another committee, which sounds like a recipe for trouble.”
But union leaders are confident the deal will lead to industry-leading terms and conditions.
Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said: “It’s simply nonsense to say that the wording on this agreement is weaker. Our long industrial relations experience means we know that there’s a huge difference between the original wording and what we have agreed.”
An ODA spokesman said the agreement was to be signed shortly