Administration passed to ECA as JIB refocuses on industrial relations and single working rule agreement

The Joint Industry Board (JIB) is to restructure to allow it to focus on its core industrial relations function, as a precursor to possible future talks between employers and Unite on a unified mechanical and electrical working rule agreement.

From 1 January 2008, the ECA will undertake the JIB’s administrative activities under a service-level agreement.

JIB chief executive Ron Allender said: “While the JIB has had enormous influence as an independent broker of industrial relations solutions, the need to change has long been on the agenda.

“We believe the time is now right to refocus the existing structure of the JIB to reflect the current industrial relations environment and to ensure its relevance to a wider arena of building services engineering firms and operatives in the future.”

The increasing demand on contractors for joined-up mechanical and electrical solutions is a major driver in the efforts to realign the JIB concept.

Alex Meikle, head of employee relations at the ECA, said: “We see the repositioning of the JIB as a very positive move for the industry. Firms are increasingly finding themselves employing a single workforce under different collective agreements.

“An updated industrial relations infrastructure to service a broader range of building services disciplines is an essential part of our future plans.”

The HVCA has welcomed in principle the restructure of the JIB. Peter Rimmer, HVCA head of employment affairs, confirmed the association’s continuing commitment to the introduction of a single working rule agreement for the mechanical and electrical sectors.

“We therefore support any development that has the potential to help us achieve this objective,” added Rimmer.

However, he went on to warn that the new arrangements, as outlined by the JIB in its statement of 29 October, fell some way short of those the majority of mechanical services contractors would expect to see included in a combined m&e employment infrastructure.

Clarifying statements that had been made in connection with the restructure, Rimmer said: “The Electrical JIB has no locus whatsoever as far as the mechanical sector is concerned.”

In relation to what has been described as a “converged future for mechanical and electrical industrial relations”, Rimmer added: “HVCA members remain resolute in their belief that an entirely new, purpose-built employment framework is required to accommodate the new relationships, new working practices and new technologies that would exist in an integrated m&e context.”

Tom Hardacre, national officer at Unite, said: “We welcome the move to reposition the JIB for the future, while recognising its huge contribution to the electrical contracting industry in the past.

“We are pleased employers recognise the drivers for change, affecting industrial relations, must be addressed positively.”

“We believe the restructuring and refocusing on core JIB values and functions will help.”