Firms lining up to follow Blue Circle

Job security deals for workers are about to take off, says union

Further groundbreaking deals are expected to follow cement firm Blue Circle’s guarantee of employment security in exchange for limits on pay rises.

Building materials manufacturers and several engineering companies are said to be interested.

`We’ve had informal discussions with other companies,’ said Allan Black, national secretary of trade union GMB `and we expect similar agreements.’

The five-year agreement signed this week between Blue Circle and the GMB is believed to be the country’s first deal that guarantees employment over a period of years. The agreement safeguards the company’s 124 road haulage jobs for five years, removing the threat of compulsory redundancy. A similar deal for 1,800 process and craft workers is imminent.

`Long-term agreements are becoming more popular,’ said Ross Dunn, personnel director of Blue Circle. `Many firms want to move forward and maximise the input of their workforce.’

Blue Circle has promised not to contract out any more driving jobs because it expects employees to contribute more to the company if they feel secure.

Blue Circle agreed to guarantee the road haulage jobs while giving a 3.5% pay rise and a one-off payment of £200 this year, followed by a wage freeze next year and three years’ negotiable pay, in line with industry standards.

A wider-reaching agreement with the remaining 1,800 Blue Circle process and craft workers will give a minimum three years security, with guaranteed annual pay rises of 0.25% above inflation. The deal would be renegotiated in three years.

Both groups will get a shorter working week. Drivers will work 58 hours, a cut of one hour. Process and craft staff get a two-hour reduction, to 37 hours.