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Archive for May, 2015

Qatar 2022 stadium workers need more help, says Amnesty International

May 28th, 2015 Comments off

Amnesty International has said that progress to improve the rights of migrant workers building Qatar’s FIFA World Cup facilities is not being made fast enough.

Though it is more than 12 months since Qatar’s government promised reforms to improve migrant labour rights, Amnesty said that only limited progress has been achieved in five of nine areas. The authorities have failed to make any improvements in the other four according to a scorecard briefing titled ‘Promising little, delivering less: Qatar and migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup’.

“Qatar is failing migrant workers,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Last year the government made promises to improve migrant labour rights in Qatar, but in practice, there have been no significant advances in the protection of rights.”

According to Amnesty, little has changed in law, policy and practice in the last year for the more than 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar who remain at the mercy of their sponsors and employers. Regarding exit permits, the restriction on changing employers in Qatar’s kafala system, the protection of domestic workers and the freedom to form or join trade union – there has been no progress whatsoever, it found.

“The lack of a clear road map of targets and benchmarks for reform leaves serious doubts about Qatar’s commitment to tackling migrant labour abuse,” said Qadri. “Without prompt action, the pledges Qatar made last year are at serious risk of being dismissed as a mere public relations stunt to ensure the Gulf state can cling on to the 2022 World Cup.”

Meanwhile, the introduction of an electronic wage system to change the way migrants’ salaries are paid is still in the process of being implemented, found Amnesty. Many migrants interviewed by Amnesty International in recent months still complained of late or non-payment of wages.

Qatar has also failed to meet its target to have 300 labour inspectors in place by the end of 2014, said Amnesty. There has been only limited progress on measures to improve safety on construction sites, regulate exploitative recruitment agencies and improve access to justice for victims of labour exploitation.

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Merseylink Consortium Develops Trestle Bridge

May 26th, 2015 Comments off

The Merseylink construction consortium selected to deliver a new gateway project on the River Mersey has developed a new bridge.

The trestle bridge will be used by heavy construction vehicles and sophisticated equipment purely as an access platform to the build site.

A lifting section, which will be used to allow boats to pass up and down the river, is also due to be installed.

The consortium is made up of three contractors, FCC Construcción, Kier Infrastructure & Overseas and Samsung Construction & Trading.

The temporary bridge will be dismantled and removed completely when the new Mersey Gateway Bridge is in place.

Richard Walker, Merserylink Project Director, said: “Completion of the trestle bridge marks another important milestone for the Mersey Gateway Project.

“It will provide us with full access to the river, enabling work to start on the central cofferdam.

“This is a great achievement for the project and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their hard work.”

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Balfour Beatty shareholders revolt over directors pay

May 20th, 2015 Comments off

Balfour Beatty suffered a significant revolt among shareholder ranks over the firm’s remuneration report at its AGM yesterday.

Shareholders holding nearly a third of the stock voted against accepting the 2014 remuneration report, which included terms for doubling Steve Marshall’s salary to £531,500 during the eight months that he acted as executive chairman.

The protest vote reflected a groundswell of shareholder concern about the previous boards’ pay after a performance that saw Balfour Beatty rack up a total trading loss of £391m last year.

After the London AGM, Balfour issued a statement that said: “The company notes the significant number of votes cast against Resolution 2, the advisory vote on the directors’ remuneration report.

“As shareholders are aware, 2014 was a challenging year for the company and the remuneration committee had to deal with a number of non-standard issues.

“The board takes its responsibility to engage with investors seriously and, therefore, will conduct a thorough assessment of the feedback received.”

Marshall became executive chairman last May following the abrupt departure of chief executive Andrew McNaughton.

He received a temporary increase in his annual fee from £265,750 to £531,500 “to reflect his additional responsibilities and time commitment,” Balfour Beatty said in its remuneration report.

The move saw his role changed from an average two-day a week commitment to attending the unprecedented 26 board meetings as Balfour battled with problem contracts, sought to sell Parsons Brinckerhoff and became entwined in failed merger talks with Carillion.

Group finance director Duncan Magrath, who left Balfour on 6 May, also received an interim responsibility allowance of 20% of salary paid monthly up to 31 March 2015.

In total, Magrath received £759,994 in 2014, including £166,803 from a long-term incentive plan.

Iain Ferguson, chairman of the remuneration committee, stated in his report: “The Committee considers that both adjustments were entirely appropriate in the absence of a chief executive during a period of significant corporate activity.”

The report also reveals that new group chief executive Leo Quinn will see his annual incentive plan include cash targets for the first time at the group.

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Winners named for £1bn construction framework

May 18th, 2015 Comments off

Five firms have secured places for £10m-plus projects under Cambridgeshire County Council’s and Northamptonshire County Council’s shared services framework.

They are among a total of 30 firms making the cut on a panel that will be used to deliver an estimated £500m-£1bn of work over four years.

The Local Government Shared Services construction framework will be used for repairs and renovation, refurbishment, demolition, modular build, extensions and new build.

LGSS Framework
£100k – £1.5m £1.5m – £3m £3m – £6m £6m – £10m £10m plus
Steele & Bray Jeakins Weir Wildgoose Kier Wates
Borras Barnes Keepmoat Farrans John Graham
T + B Lakehouse Seddon Willmott Dixon Galliford Try
D Brown Ashe Lakehouse Bouygues Vinci
Coulson Watson & Cox Barnes John Graham Volker
T Denman Geda Kier
Cocksedge SEH French Ashe
Mineral Star J Tomlinson RG Carter

LGSS is the shared services venture set up in October 2010 by founding  partners Cambridgeshire County Council and Northamptonshire County Council, and ranks as one of the largest ventures of its kind.

Selected contractors will be in line for work from Norwich City Council and Northampton Borough Council, as well as Northamptonshire County Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Of the previous winners Morgan Sindall is one of the high profile firms not to be included this time around.

 

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Quarter of Registered Construction Workers Did Not Vote During Last Week’s General Election

May 15th, 2015 Comments off

Newly conducted research has discovered that nearly one quarter of registered individuals who work within the construction industry did not vote during last week’s general election, with the majority of these individuals blaming a lack of knowledge surrounding party policies behind their decision not to take to the ballot.

After the news that an estimated 66.1 per cent of the electorate in Britain voted during last week’s general election, a team of researchers at a leading business insurance website in the UK has discovered that as many as one quarter of construction workers who were registered to vote last week, made the decision not to.

The team at www.constructaquote.com polled a total of 2,159 individuals working across a range of industries within the construction sector for the purposes of the study. Each participant taking part was aged 18 or over, and revealed to researchers prior to the survey that they were registered, at their current address, to vote in last week’s general election.

Participants were initially asked if they had voted, either at a polling station or by postal vote, during last week’s general election. Whilst the majority (76%) stated that they did vote, almost one quarter (24%) revealed that they had not managed to cast their vote before the 10pm deadline last Thursday evening.

Of the construction workers that did vote last Thursday, the majority (78%) revealed that one of the main motivations for doing so was in order to try and improve the state of the construction industry; particularly due to recent claims that growth in construction and manufacturing has halted.

When relevant respondents were then given a list of potential answers and asked to pick the reasons why they didn’t vote, the most common five answers were revealed as follows:

  1. A lack of knowledge surrounding political parties and their policies- 62%
  2. I aimed to vote but couldn’t find the time- 36%
  3. I had something better to do than vote- 24%
  4. I didn’t feel any of the parties had policies that would benefit me personally-17%
  5. I only registered to vote to improve my credit score- 8%

Lyndon Wood, CEO and Creator of constructaquote.com, made the following comments regarding the findings of the election study:

“In an industry such as construction, where the political party in charge of the country will have such a huge impact on how people are treated, both in terms of wages and health and safety standards, the fact that so many registered individuals didn’t vote is extremely disappointing.”

He continued:

“I understand that for some people there may have been circumstances out of their control that prevented them from voting last week. However, those who didn’t take the time to read up on party manifestos or watch any of the extensive media coverage in the lead up to the election don’t really have an excuse. If you don’t vote and have your say on how you want this country run, then you really have no right to express your opinion on anything political.”

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Shepherd offloads housing assets to Galliford Try

May 13th, 2015 Comments off

Galliford Try has signed a deal with Shepherd Group to buy their Yorkshire housing assets.

As reported recently, the deal will give Linden Homes’ a springboard to meet its targeted expansion by 2018.

The sell-off comprises six current sites and five sites in planning, totalling a landbank of 515 plots. It is not known what will happen to the 60 staff at Shepherd Homes.

It is the first disposal by Shepherd Group after the management reviewed its options for its seven main operating businesses.

Latest 2014 accounts for the privately-owned group showed it struggled to perform with profit falling 40% to £11m from a turnover of £686m.

Within this there were strong performances by Portakabin, Shepherd Engineering Services, Homes and FM, but Shepherd Construction and two businesses within Shepherd Group Engineering performed badly.

Earlier this year Wates looked at buying the M&E business and the loss-making building business but decided not to move ahead with an offer.

Shepherd Homes, also part of the built environment division, trebled pre-tax profits to £3.5m after nearly doubling completions to 234 homes in 2014 and lifting turnover to £47m.

But the house builder’s land and stock has shrunk from a value of £74m in 2009 to just £27m in 2014, even though the house building industry has seen a strong recovery during the last three years.

Greg Fitzgerald, Executive Chairman at Galliford Try, revealed yesterday’s deal in an upbeat trading statement this morning.

He said that both Linden Homes and Galliford Try’s Partnerships arm were actively pursuing good land opportunities.

The division now boasts a record landbank of 15,000 plots.  Linden Homes has all plots secured for 2016 together with 75% of plots secured for 2017.

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New surveying website launched

May 11th, 2015 Comments off

New website screenshot for LinkedinMobile CAD Surveying the Measured Building Surveying specialists have launched a new website this week to show off some of their recent work and surveying services.

The Company are well known for carrying out specialist surveying projects and schedules of buildings to all types of premises around the UK and abroad for many blue chip clients and adding to their portfolio of clients and surveying services all the time, though it about time they launch a new website to better compliment their growing business, so mobcad is now launched.

If you need any type of building surveying for whatever reason, they will be happy to help.

A few reasons to use Mobile CAD Surveying Solutions Ltd:-

  • Short lead in times usually less than 7 days
  • Short drawing turn around times (plans can be emailed from site if required)
  • Revit surveys
  • Any size of project undertaken
  • Full references from Charter Standard Architects on request.
  • Quotations issued within 24hrs
  • Survey teams to cover all the UK
  • Specialist London based survey teams.
  • Use the latest Laser Scanning, Reflectorless Total Stations and Disto laser measures to produce drawings live on site, in real time,  using the latest in German surveying software.

For any type of surveying requirement, floor plans, elevations, topographical surveys, underground service traces,
3D laser scanning or Revit 3D modelling visit, 360 Panaoramic photos and much more www.mobcad.co.uk 

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Rocketing Chinese rebar imports spark EU probe

May 8th, 2015 Comments off

The European Commission has opened an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese imports of steel rebar.

rebar-190x127The investigation will look at the flood of imports of high fatigue performance rebar, which is coming into the UK at below market prices.

Imports now account for half of the total steel used in construction and are undermining domestic steel manufacturing.

European trade body EUROFER triggered the Commission investigation warning the situation was “no longer sustainable”.

UK Steel, the body representing manufacturers, said it hoped the move would see a step-change for European procurement practices, reintroducing a level playing field for suppliers across the UK and Europe.

Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel, said: “UK steel members are encouraged by the Commission’s action to investigate our complaint that rebar from China is being dumped on the EU market, at below fair market prices.”

“Over the last three years we have seen import penetration rise from near zero to around 50% of the UK market.

“I very much hope that this investigation can be concluded as quickly as possible, to ensure that UK rebar producers can once again operate in a free and fair global marketplace.”

The organisation, which represents every steel producing company in the UK and many steel processing companies, launched the Charter for Sustainable British Steel last year to combat the excess of what they see as sub-standard Chinese rebar imports.

Balfour Beatty and Morgan Sindall and a range of local authorities have already signed-up to the Charter, which promotes the use of sustainable, BES 6001 accredited rebar. The Charter has also been formally welcomed by the UK Government and the Welsh Government.

Softening Chinese steel demand has exposed vast over-capacities, estimated by the OECD at around 400 million tonnes, fuelled by state control and financial assistance.

In particular, the recent lifting of the boron-alloy VAT export rebate has created a trade loophole by replacing boron with other alloys such as chrome.

According to EUROFER the Chinese government cut electricity prices recently to support Chinese steel producers facing an over-supplied, depressed domestic market.

The steel producer body claimas that because China does not effectively address its excess steel capacities and allows producers to operate under market conditions, its excess production is destabilising the global steel industry.

“Like most of its steel trade partners, the EU is acting against the unfair Chinese imports” said  Axel Eggert, director of EUROFER.

“When trade remedies are justified, they should be imposed in as timely and effective a manner as possible – just like other trade partners do”.

 

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GB Building collapse costs subcontractors £39m

May 6th, 2015 Comments off

Hundreds of subcontractors hit by the collapse of the GB Group are owed £39m.

And administrators at BDO have conceded that trade suppliers are unlikely to see a penny of their cash

The Enquirer has seen the administrator’s report in the wake of the firm’s failure in early March.

It makes grim reading for subcontractors owed money for work on more than 40 former GB sites across the country.

GB Group and GB Building Solutions crashed owing more than £100m in total.

That figure includes £30m to unsecured trade creditors and a further £9m held in retentions.

The companies also owed £18m to performance bond underwriters with the balance made up of inter-company debts and cross indemnities.

BDO experts believe their will not be enough money raised from the company assets to pay the £6.75m it owes to Lloyds Bank.

The report warns: “Therefore, we do not believe there will  be any other money available to unsecured  creditors of the companies.”

The collapse of GB has already claimed a number of victims among trade contractors.

Stockport based pre-cast specialist SCC fell into administration after it lost out on a £1m payment from GB on its Leeds Hilton projects.

Leeds based civil engineer McFadden Construction was also forced into administration following a £700,000 loss on the same GB job.

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Liverpool Uni £90m student village approved

May 1st, 2015 Comments off

The University of Liverpool has gained planning permission for a £90m student accommodation scheme at its Greenbank halls.

The job, which will be run by the University of Liverpool Construction Company Special Projects team, involves building new halls of residence, demolishing old ones and refurbishing Derby Hall.

Its in-house construction team was formed at the time of the collapse of student accommodation specialist Ocon to finish a major student hall project at the university.

Greenbank University of Liverpool

The latest student village scheme will deliver 1,370 new or refurbished rooms in total and include a two-storey sports hall.

It forms part of a £250m masterplan by the university to build and upgrade accommodation at its city and Mossley Hill base.

New housing blocks are to be set around three landscaped courtyards and will rise to 5-8 storeys.

The site contains a mix of buildings including Greenbank House, the Grade II* listed former home of the Rathbones, founding members of the University of Liverpool and Derby Old Court, the first hall of residence on the site.

The project team also includes quantity surveyor Gleeds, WYG on mechanical and Electrical engineering, Sutcliffes for structural engineering and RLF as construction manager.

The planning approval has been approved subject to a section 106 agreement.

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