Sparks protests spread as dispute enters sixth week

Aaron Morby 13 years ago

Protests by angry electricians spread across the country as the fierce dispute against a new wage agreement entered its sixth week.

This morning protests were staged at building jobs being run by M&E firms T Clarke, Shepherd and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.

Several hundred electricians, members of the country’s largest trade union Unite, staged a protest at the big Park House shopping centre job on London’s Oxford Street.

The protest went ahead despite pleas from Scotland Yard to call it off after complaints from neighbouring stores, and resulted in a strong police presence.

Park House was targeted as its major M&E package contractor, T Clarke, is one of eight breakaway building services firms seeking to impose a new working rule agreement called BESNA.

In Liverpool, up to 100 workers were reported to be planning protests this morning outside the big central library site where Shepherd Engineering is working.

And in Scotland electricians protested outside Balfour Beatty Engineering Services’ job at Cambuslang fire station in Lanarkshire.

Unions claim moves to combine five existing working rule agreements into a single deal will erode wages and conditions, by introducing a semi-skilled rate for installers.

This new installer grade will be below a fully qualified electrician pay rate.

Unite regional officer, Guy Langston, said: “London construction workers have made it clear they will not accept a pay cut.

“They have been protesting for weeks and will not stop until their employers have returned to the negotiating table for a constructive dialogue.”

Eight rebel M&E contractors are backing the agreement, although last week contractor MJN Colston broke ranks and said it would delay forcing through the proposed agreement.

Blane Judd, chief executive of the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association, said on behalf of the major contractors: “MJN Colston have made a statement to us that they have not turned their back on the BESNA as being promoted by the union but will be moving at a slower pace than the other seven for operational reasons.”

He added: “We are somewhat surprised at the reaction of these activists who seem to have misinterpreted the terms and conditions of this new agreement.

“The facts are that there will be no job losses or redundancies as a result of the introduction of this agreement.

“Electrical operatives’ pay will remain the same and plumbing and mechanical workers will receive an increase to bring them in line with their colleagues.”

Judd said: “There are no changes to pension, sick pay, insurance or Bupa. Holiday will be standardised which will increase electricians’ holiday entitlement by one day.”

Electrical and mechanical workers have until 7 December to sign the new agreement with a view to contractors implementing it in March.

Latest news

Geoffrey Osborne supply chain hit for £26m

More than 500 suppliers and subcontractors left holding unpaid bills
7 hours ago

SME contractors agree 4% pay rise for site workers

Workers will also get an extra day of holiday
4 hours ago

Labour to mothball £320m A27 job to fix potholes

Manifesto confirms Arundel Bypass canned as "poor value for money"
11 hours ago

Lendlease’s £1.9bn Smithfield Birmingham scheme approved

Initial work to start later this year despite questions over Lendlease's degree of involvement
12 hours ago

Crest Nicholson rejects £650m Bellway bid

Second Bellway approach rebuffed
20 hours ago

Hill submits £800m East London estate rebuild plan

Over 1,900 homes to be built in five phase at Teviot Estate in Poplar
1 day ago

Plan approved for 8,500-seat Edinburgh indoor arena

Construction expected to start next year once a contractor is appointed
10 hours ago

Statom starts on £25m Bristol Airport precast car park

Major work package on transport upgrade being overseen by Griffiths Farrans JV
1 day ago

Build problems plunge Crest Nicholson to a £31m loss

House builder unearths more defects on completed sites
1 day ago

Rebooted Amey lifts contract win rate to 1 in 3 bids

Amey chief says firm exceeded expectations in first year under new owners
1 day ago

BAM Nuttall fined £2.3m after worker drowned

Court hears how series of safety failures led to tragedy
2 days ago

OCU buys Scottish civils contractor RJ McLeod

Deal takes multi-utility infrastructure specialist revenue to over £800m
2 days ago

£220m plan to restore secret wartime tunnels approved

Tunnels under High Holborn to become cultural exhibition space
2 days ago

Galliford Try wins £69m Scottish school job

Deal sealed on Paisley Grammar School project in Renfrewshire
1 day ago

Balfour wins design for £690m Skye transmission job

Main work contract for 137km power line to be awarded later this year
2 days ago

Student and resi developer Fortis goes under

Cheshire based developer follows construction arm into liquidation
2 days ago

Construction output falls for third month running

Heavy rain and strong winds blamed for sharp fall in activity in April
2 days ago

Plan in for Leeds 27-storey block of flats

390 flats planned at former Morgan Sindall office site
2 days ago

Firms readied for £1.5bn Parliament estate upkeep deal

Invitation to tender due to go out next month
3 days ago

Amey switches kit supplier

Deal with HSS was worth £24.5m a year to rental specialist
2 days ago

Track workers scatter to avoid runaway rail trolley

Track trolley careers 1km towards work site
2 days ago

Direct delivery model pays off as Murphy profit soars to £67m

Group operating margin jumps from 3% to 5% in record year
3 days ago

Ex-Galliard boss to lead Battersea next building phase

Don O’Sullivan joins as plans advance to start phase 3C of power station redevelopment
3 days ago

£100m Digbeth 33-storey flats job out to bid

483 flats will be delivered for Clarion housing association
3 days ago

Van Elle fined £233,000 after piling rig kills driver

Court hears how tragedy was caused by poorly maintained plant
3 days ago

Renew buys utilities contractor Excalon

Infrastructure giant expand into electricity transmission market with £26m deal
3 days ago

Planning for new homes plunges to record low

Home builders call for urgent action from incoming government
3 days ago

JTRE starts £400m 21-floor London tower scheme

Office block and 64 affordable homes to be built at 220 Blackfriars Road site
4 days ago

R G Carter construction profits up despite 24% revenue fall

Selective client choice help profit jump to £6m from £1m previously
4 days ago

Refurbs power London office work to record high

London Office Crane Survey office work starts exceed 4m sq ft for record third quarter
4 days ago

Contractor services