Evidence is emerging of massive pay settlements for engineering workers and managers asked to work or remain on stand-by over the millennium New Year break.
Unions in the power generation, electricity supply and IT industries are demanding payments of three times the basic rate or more for members, as well as substantial stand-by bonuses. And firms have been warned that rates could go even higher over the next few months.
According to Incomes Data Services, cable operator Telewest is offering managers who are called out on Friday 31 December and Saturday 1 January a £700 bonus and time off in lieu. Other staff will receive a sign-on bonus of £50 and an allowance of £250 for each day they are on stand by. If they are called out, they will be paid four times the basic hourly rate with time off in lieu.
And BT has done a deal with the Communication Workers Union which will effectively pay 2.5 times the hourly rate, plus £55 per hour.
National Grid has also agreed to lump sums of £350 plus normal overtime rates for staff asked to work the weekend. Workers on stand-by will get £250 with a further £100 if they turn out, plus normal overtime rates.
In the oil and gas sector, BP Amoco has drawn up general guidance for its UK operations. This will reward staff on the basis of the degree of disruption suffered. And managers at Transco, the arm of BG that operates the UK’s gas transmission system, were meeting this week to discuss staffing requirements.
Mike South, managing director of engineering recruitment agency Jonathan Lee Recruitment, said: `I imagine that millennium time is going to be five to six times the normal rate.’
And he warned that pay rates are likely to rise over the next six months. `If companies plan now, they might get a better deal,’ he said.
The GMB general workers union said its advice to members was that `as a bare minimum, workers should get three times the normal rate of pay plus £100′.
And a spokesman for the MSF manufacturing union said: `Our advice to IT staff is get as much as you can’.