Meeting follows Balfour Beatty’s U-turn in industrial relations dispute

Crisis talks are set to take place today between the six remaining companies backing the controversial Building and Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA), Building understands.

Sources close to the firms say the companies are looking to establish a common position in response to Balfour Beatty Engineering Services’ (BBES) shock decision last week to drop BESNA in favour of entering negotiations with union Unite – which opposes the firms’ pay and conditions proposals.

BBES is the largest of the seven firms backing the BESNA proposals – which have sparked five months of protests in one of the industry’s largest industrial disputes for over a decade.

BBES backed down in the dispute last Friday after failing in a court challenge to a planned strike which was voted for by its Unite members.

Unite’s national construction officer Bernard McAulay said he had met the other six firms and would target them with strike ballots if they refused to follow Balfour Beatty’s suit and drop the BESNA proposals.