Union stewards have accepted a wage agreement from electrical employers, ruling out the possibility of industrial action on sites across the country.

In an apparent U-turn, the chief stewards of the Unite-Amicus union voted 8-6 in favour of accepting the original wage agreement in a meeting on Monday. The agreement will cover the period 2008 to 2011.

Stewards had previously opposed the agreement drawn up by Tom Hardacre, Unite-Amicus’ head of construction, and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) in April. Workers rejected the deal by national ballot in July after stewards refused it.

The union’s activists were testing the waters for strike action as recently as last week. Workers at Heathrow Terminal 5 agreed to back industrial action in an informal meeting last Tuesday, but on-site discussions across the country found most workers were unwilling to down tools.

Elected officials decided, on behalf of union members, to accept the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement, which means a strike will no longer be necessary.

Workers will be given a 13.5% pay rise over three years

A source said: “There doesn’t appear to be the will for industrial action, so stewards decided to support the deal”

Under the agreement, electrical workers will be given a 13.5% pay rise over three years: 4% next year, 8.5% in total the following year, rising to 13.5% the year after that.

Some workers were angry that stewards were able to decide on issues that would not affect them. One steward who voted in the ballot worked for Bechtel, which is not covered by the JIB agreement. Others had not attended JIB discussions before.

Hardacre was expected to confirm the details of the deal in a meeting with the ECA yesterday, but would not comment on the matter before Building went to press.