Balfour Beatty Engineering Services dramatically pulled-out of the BESNA deal last week following pressure from union Unite and rank-and-file sparks.
The move left the six remaining firms – NG Bailey, Crown House, Gratte Brothers, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and T Clarke – in the lurch.
The Enquirer understands there is a split between the six over strategy.
But one source close to the situation said: “One thing is definite, BESNA is finished.
“Some of the firms will instantly follow Balfour’s lead and pull out of the deal.
“But others are standing back with a watching brief.
“We have signed-up more than 90% of workers to the new terms and conditions which will make them between £40 and £100 a week better off.
“How do you turn round and take that away from them now? We’ll leave that one to the union to explain.”
Balfour is still hoping to modernise the M&E sector and Unite has agreed to “wide-ranging talks on modernising the industry” via the trade associations.
But one industrial relations expert told the Enquirer: “Talk about modernising the sector has been going on for years.
“We nearly got there then Balfour Beatty pulled the rug with its last minute pull-out.
“This was the chance to drag the industry into the twenty first century and Balfour bottled it.
“I can’t see how they can try again after handing the initiative to Unite like that.”