HVCA is in dialogue with a group of major UK building engineering services contractors to introduce a new employment framework for plumbers.

This comes in the wake of a further 23% fall in construction orders in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous three-month period, and a decrease of 18% on the same period in 2010 – along with industry predictions that there will be, at best, a 0% increase in tender prices during the remainder of 2011.

These factors have already led to significant levels of redundancy in 2009 and 2010, with further job losses being reported this year.

HVCA believes that the proposed employment framework will be better suited to the “design-manufacture-install” approach that is increasingly being demanded by blue-chip construction clients.

Discussions have taken place with Unite the Union, whose active participation in the process HVCA considers to be essential to the securing and implementing of a lasting and workable arrangement – which, it is hoped, will be in place by March 2012.

“Delivering sustainable construction is, however, dependent upon our adopting an integrated project approach – involving the teams, the supply chains and, critically, the workforce,” he said.

“Sustainability will be the thread that runs through everything we do, and our sector must equip itself with an appropriately skilled, well-managed and properly rewarded workforce. Putting a new framework in place now will ensure that the industry is in excellent shape to respond to an upturn when it does arrive, as well as assisting government in delivering on its ongoing carbon reduction commitments."