Electrical Contractors’ Association welcomes contractors’ move to ditch controversial wage agreement

The Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) has called on M&E firms to develop a “truly collaborative agreement” in the wake of the collapse of the controversial BESNA scheme.

All seven of the contractors behind BESNA – a pay and conditions scheme proposed for 6,000 workers – ditched the scheme yesterday.

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services was the first contractor to do so last Friday, after failing in its legal challenge to a strike vote by its union members.

The Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association (HVCA) – which drew up the BESNA proposals with the contractors – had refused to comment on the developments this week, but yesterday confirmed that the agreement was dead, with the remaining five firms pulling out.

The ECA and union Unite run the wage agreement that BESNA was designed to replace – the 40-year-old Joint Industry Board scheme.

The seven firms that supported BESNA – which also include NG Bailey, Crown House, Shepherd Engineering Services, Gratte Brothers, Spie Matthew Hall and T Clarke – will meet with Unite to negotiate a way forward in the coming weeks.

BESNA sparked over five months of protests, including a 1,000-strong London rally, a sit-in of a contractor’s headquarters and violent clashes with police.

The ECA statement said: “The Electrical Contractors’ Association welcomes the news that the HVCA has terminated its plans to introduce the Building Engineering Services National Agreement. Balfour Beatty Engineering Services and NG Bailey have also previously confirmed they intend to withdraw from the agreement.

“This is an important step forward for the industry. The Building Engineering Services sector can only benefit from the support of trade associations and major contractors such as BBES and NG Bailey, in developing any future agreement that is representative of all parties.

“The door was always open and we are glad that BBES, NG Bailey and HVCA have decided to abandon the BESNA proposal and come back to the table to find a truly collaborative agreement that serves the whole industry.

“We urge the remaining BESNA contractors to abandon plans to introduce BESNA and come back to the table to negotiate along with their fellow employers in the Building Engineering Services sector.

“This is the only decision that will make sense for our industry if we are to deliver safe and responsible change for the sector as a whole, which ECA, along with our colleagues from the other trade associations and Unite, is committed to achieving.”