Protests come despite controversial BESNA agreement being led by ECA’s rival trade body the HVCA

The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) said it will take six months for it to formulate a rival wage agreement to the controversial Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA).

Around 100 electricians protested about the imposition of BESNA outside the Electrical Contractors Association’s annual black-tie dinner last night. They picketed guests arriving at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London, stopping traffic as the crowd spilled onto the street.

This is despite the controversial BESNA wage agreement being led by the ECA’s rival trade association the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA).

Unions are angry at the proposed new BESNA agreement drawn up by seven major contractors and supported by the HVCA to replace the 40-year-old Joint Industry Board (JIB) wage agreement.

Unions say the agreement will squeeze wages and de-skill the workforce.

Steve Bratt, ECA’s chief executive, said the ECA was working with other trade bodies to draw-up a fresh agreement. “We are trying to do something which will be sustainable in the long term,” he said.

“Where we hope it will end up is that we as employers can identify what it is we are looking for in terms of changes needed, and then agree those with the unions,” he added. But he said he expected that process to take around six months.

The ECA has not supported the BESNA but Bratt said that the association’s annual dinner had been targeted because protesters were “angry” and “wanted their voices heard”.