This morning protests will take place in Newcastle, as construction industry workers unite against the Building Engineering National Services Agreement.
Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, along with seven other leading building firms and the HVCA trade body, have signed a new national working agreement, which aims to serve the current and future needs of the construction industry.
Under the agreement, building firms will be required to comply with a uniform set of rules for operatives aiming to streamline industrial relations.
While the construction groups involved believe the new system will develop a more integrated and multi-skilled workforce relevant to new modern techniques, www.costructionenquirer.com reports that these changes could reduce wages by a third.
Blane Judd, chief executive of the Heating and Ventilation Contractors Organisation is keen to refute these claims, and accused the unions of manipulating salary bands.
“There will be no pay cuts, and people will transfer in at the same grade and pay rates as they were in the old system, and there will even be increased benefits for some.
“We have been careful not to erode current conditions, and have chosen to implement the new system to replace the one which has been in place for the past 40 years to make it easier and more cost effective for the contractor.”
“UNITE are wedded to the process, and the industry needs to be allowed to move on, so if they don’t want to go with us, we will go it alone.”
However, Bill Greene from UNITE North East disagreed with Mr Judd’s , accusing big businesses of deskilling large numbers of its members.
“This breakaway group have failed to take the general situation in construction and engineering into account
“While people wages won’t get cut under current working conditions, when their contracts finish and they are made redundant or dismissed, then the problems will arise as employers will take advantage of the lack of work going round.
“These cost cutting measures will mean that trained craftsmen will be forced to take on installer grade work, resulting in a drop in earnings.”
The protest will take place at the Balfour Beatty site on Percy Street, Newcastle.