Wednesday, 27 March 2013

BCSA call for level playing field (Steel Construction)

I was pleased to read the following article in New Steel Construction yesterday. For those of you unaware of the context for this the contract for building the new Forth Bridge Crossing was awarded to Forth Crossing Bridge Contractors, a consortium comprising Hochtief, Dragados, American Bridge International and Morrison last year. The tender price was £790m, well below the estimated price of £900m-1200m. But all of the steel and probably the concrete will be sourced from outside the UK. So Transport for Scotland have saved circa £200m in construction costs but have failed to provide additional jobs for UK industry. [admittedly they had to carry out the tender in line with EU guidelines, however they don't have to give the contract to lowest cost. Clients can choose how to weight the tenders; quality, sustainability and social impacts can be allowed for. I fail to see how transporting the steel from Poland, China and Spain can be justified on sustainability grounds]

"BCSA President Ivor Roberts criticised the award of the Forth Replacement Crossing steelwork contract to a Chinese company as a blow that must not be allowed to happen again. Speaking at the BCSA’s National Dinner Mr Roberts said the award to an overseas company was completely unnecessary, causing taxpayer’s money to flow out of the country.
BCSA Members have secured the steelwork contracts for the north and south approaches to the bridge, but he said this was too little and too late. Mr Roberts said the Forth Replacement Crossing contract award was one of the spurs for the recent launch of the BCSA’s Rebuilding Britain Campaign, which calls for the Government to ensure that local supply chains are put first for the good of the economy and the industry.
UK companies were not competing on level playing fields when they faced the higher costs of quality assured production and health and safety and other regulations that overseas competitors did not bear.
The campaign calls for the economic benefits of using UK and Ireland-based companies to be written into procurement guidelines and for the benefits of using UK and Ireland constructional steelwork contractors to be recognised in procurement processes. Constructional steelwork on all government funded, endorsed or private finance infrastructure projects should be procured using a BCSA quality assurance scheme member.
News that the Government is supporting Chinese investment in UK infrastructure and construction poses an enormous risk to the whole construction supply chain, he said, adding:’ This is one battle that I believe we can win – but only by working together to engage in a concerted and long term campaign.’
Mr Roberts urged Members not to engage in pricing below what is needed to earn a sustainable profit. He said: “As steelwork contractors we have to price our business to actually make a profit as well as insisting on fair and reasonable contractual terms, or we will run the whole industry into the ground. And as a steelwork contractor I know that it’s possible to just say no to suicide pricing and unfair contracts, and continue to run a successful business.”"

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