Contractor pulls out to avert strike action

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) has withdrawn its support of controversial proposed changes to its electrical workforce’s pay and conditions.

BBES was the driving force behind the Building and Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA) proposals, which have sparked more than five months of protests.

In a joint statement union Unite and BBES confirmed that they had agreed to return to the negotiating table and Unite said a planned strike, voted for by members at BBES, would not go ahead.

The joint statement read: “The current dispute between Unite and the seven companies who are promoting the BESNA agreement is causing serious concern within the industry and threatens to escalate into a damaging conflict.

“The objective of the seven companies was to address perceived shortcomings within current working rules agreements and to offer ways to create a more modern approach in the current competitive environment.

“Unite understands the questions raised by those seven companies and believes a review of the JIB and other industry working rule agreements is desirable.

“BBES has agreed to withdraw the BESNA contracts and Unite has agreed not to pursue further industrial action or protest on the basis that wide ranging talks will now take place on modernising the industry. Both parties are committed to high level talks within an agreed timeline with the aim of creating new proposals and ensuring agreed terms are honoured.

“It is the intention of Unite, along with the employers’ associations and reputable companies, to bring stability and fairness to this section of the construction industry.”

For full details of the BESNA dispute, see Building’s feature on the issue here.