ECA boss says targets of protestors anger will not be at dinner and protests should be directed at HVCA

The Electrical Contractors’ Association has blamed the “confusion” surrounding the proposed introduction of the BESNA agreement on sparks’ plans to protest at its annual gala dinner in London tomorrow night.

Responding to reports that scores of demonstrators are planning to picket the entrance to the Grosvenor House Hotel where the ECA is hosting its annual dinner for up to 1,000 guests, ECA chief executive Steve Bratt said the sparks’ argument was with the Heating & Ventilating Contractors’Association (HVCA), not with the ECA.

The HVCA has represented seven major contractors in their bid to replace the 40-year-old Joint Industry Board (JIB) wage agreement with BESNA, which they argue is vital for a modern and efficient industry but unions claim will depress wages and de-skill the workforce.

Bratt called the proposed protest “unfortunate”.

“The argument is not with us, but with HVCA as architects of the proposed BESNA agreement,” he said. “With so many conflicting reports flying around, it is hardly surprising that there is general confusion as to who is to blame.

“The fact is, the people [the protestors] wish to petition will not be at the ECA annual dinner as they are part of the breakaway group in favour of the BESNA agreement as opposed to the JIB agreement, which ECA and the rest of our colleagues in the building services sector are working hard to modernise.

“This is yet further evidence that the proposed BESNA agreement put forward by HVCA is causing anger, bad feeling and confusion in the industry.

“We recognise that change does need to happen and … through the industry modernisation forum, we are working collaboratively with our colleagues in the building services sector to achieve an agreement which is acceptable to all and not just the few. It is only through collaboration that this issue will be resolved.”

As Building reported last month, a number of major contractors including Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) are planning to leave the ECA following its failure to support BESNA.