Fears are growing that the imminent sale of the labour agency ESCA Services will lead to a monopoly in labour supply to the construction market.
ESCA Services, which is jointly owned by the Electrical Contractors Association and electrical union AEEU, is to be sold to Beaver Management Services. The move has led some other unions to complain that the deal will make BMS too powerful in the labour agency market.

A source in the Electricians and Plumbers Independent Union said it was close to finalising details of a complaint that it intended to make to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission if the deal went through.

The source added that plans were being drawn up by the unions' national officers to persuade MPs to back the complaint.

Unions are concerned that workers across London would be overly reliant on a merged agency for work, and that this could inhibit them from making complaints about conditions and welfare.

The EPIU source said: "The agency would have a virtual monopoly – there would be nothing to stop them blacklisting workers that they see as troublesome."

There would be nothing to stop them blacklisting workers that they see as troublesome

Union source

A senior source at the AEEU said general secretary Ken Jackson had been unhappy with ESCA Services for some time. He said the agency had not been consistently making money and that sealed bids for it had been received over the past few months.

ESCA Services and BMS refused to comment and the ECA was unavailable for comment.

  • The Federation of Master Builders and union T&G this week agreed pay rises for more than 200,000 members.

    The joint secretaries of wage body BATJIC agreed that the craftsman hourly rate will increase from £6.70 to £7.30 and an adult general operative's hourly rate will increase to £5.65 from £5.42.