BAA and unions in Heathrowbust-up

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The Independent Online

Airport group BAA will face industrial action at its key £2.6bn Terminal 5 redevelopment site at Heathrow airport unless it meets union demands for compensation to cover the journey time for construction workers travelling to the site.

Airport group BAA will face industrial action at its key £2.6bn Terminal 5 redevelopment site at Heathrow airport unless it meets union demands for compensation to cover the journey time for construction workers travelling to the site.

The dispute follows other clashes between the Amicus union and BAA over the company's security measures, such as the filming of workers. These have led some employees to dub the site Guantanamo BAA.

The row is between metal and electrical workers represented by the union and their contractors Amec, Crown House, Balfour Kilpatrick and Hotchkiss Ductwork.

Amicus claims workers are facing lengthy journeys and security checks, causing them to take up to 2 1/2 hours to get to and from work every day. It wants employees to receive compensation for this.

Contractor Laing O'Rourke is understood to have already agreed to pay civil engineers, who are on lower rates, £25 a day to cover commuting time, but the contractors employing metal and electrical staff have resisted giving Amicus workers such payments.

It is estimated the extra payments could cost up to £14m.

There are currently 300-400 metal and electrical workers on site, but this figure is set to rise to 2,000.

A claim by the union will be presented to a Terminal 5 joint council meeting on Wednesday. If it is rejected, union members will vote on strike action, says Amicus's regional construction officer, Frank Westerman.

"Some union branches are already pushing for a ballot," says Mr Westerman, who is also deputy chairman of the joint council. "The situation is only going to get worse as they open terminal piers for the planes. We can see the security measures increasing further."

However, a BAA spokeswoman said the union had agreed to a workplace deal, known as a major projects agreement, at the outset of the project.

"T5 does pose unique logistical challenges but these sorts of issues were clearly recognised by the union during negotiations in 2003," she said.

The spokeswoman also disputed the union's claims that workers were secretly being filmed, arguing CCTV cameras were clearly in operation and did not contravene the Data Protection Act.

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