Up to 50 angry electricians chain doors shut at contractor’s London office

Gratte Brothers has condemned a gang of electricians who staged a “violent and abusive” protest at its London headquarters this morning.

A spokeswoman for the specialist contractor – which is being targeted over a pay and conditions dispute – claimed around 40 protestors forced their way into its Islington office this morning, pushing a female member of staff to the floor and intimidating other workers.

The protestors then chained up the office’s front doors for up to half an hour, which had to be forced open by police using bolt cutters, she added.

The spokeswoman said police had been at the building all day reviewing CCTV footage of the incident.

She added: “This was a highly unacceptable act. People were shocked by the abusive nature of it – there was a lot of pushing and shoving. We will pursue charges with the police.”

A spokeswoman for Unite said: “The union is investigating what actually happened.”

The sit-in marks an escalation in the protests that have engulfed eight of the industry’s largest electrical contractors for three months over proposed changes to workers’ pay and conditions.

In another development, Balfour Beatty – which has been hit by a Unite strike ballot over the issue – slammed union claims that it wants to replace skilled employees with semi-skilled agency workers.

Unite claimed in a press release that Balfour HR representatives told site meetings that the contractor planned to replace directly employed workers with agency staff.

The union also claimed that Balfour bosses said site teams would consist of one skilled worker and eight semi-skilled installers in future.

But a Balfour spokesman said: “Balfour Beatty Engineering Services categorically refutes the claim by Unite that it plans to cut up to 1,300 directly employed workers with semi-skilled agency labour.

“Balfour Beatty Engineering Services also categorically refutes that teams would consist of one craftsman working with eight semi-skilled installer grades.

“These are extremely irresponsible and inaccurate messages being put out by Unite.”

Balfour Beatty’s strike ballot closes next Tuesday, 29th November.