The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors has negotiated a draft deal involving a pay freeze for plumbers in 2010 with Unite the Union.
The agreement was reached through the JIB-PMES (The Joint Industry Board for Plumbing and Mechanical Engineering Services), although both the APHC and Unite must ratify the plan with their members before implementation.
It is expected that a deal could be ratified by the end of June.
The deal covers the 1,500 employers involved with the APHC. These firms employ up to 60,000 employees, although not all of these are affiliated to the JIB.
The two-year deal sees pay rates staying the same during 2010 and rising in line with inflation in 2011.
The holiday pay scheme will now apply only to 30 days, rather than giving the option of covering just 22.
In 2011, rates and allowances will increase in line with inflation, with figures taken from the Retail Prices Index in June 2010.
This increase will be capped at 6 per cent. In the event of deflation occurring, pay will not be cut but will remain at the 2010 level.
The APHC has lauded the pay deal as a triumph for common sense in difficult economic times.
Patrick Murray, head of industrial relations at APHC, said: “This sensible approach recognises the difficulties plumbing and heating companies are facing at the present time.
“Unite the union understands the unusual circumstances that formed the backdrop to the negotiations and in fact has helped to protect its members’ jobs by not demanding an unrealistic increase in pay.
“I am receiving phone calls daily from employers looking to reduce their staff numbers or cease trading altogether. A pay increase at this stage would have seriously damaged both employers and employees.”