Move likely to damage relationships with rival trade federation the ECA

The Heating & Ventilating Contractors Association is to rebrand to broaden its appeal, a move likely to damage its already fractious relationships with rival trade federations.

The HVCA will be renamed the Building & Engineering Services Association from March and will widen its remit to cover all mechanical and engineering contractors.

HVCA sources claimed the rebrand had been prompted by frustration with rival the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) after four-year talks to merge the two organisations broke down last year.

The move is likely to go down badly with the ECA given that it represents thousands of electrical contractors that the HVCA is now positioning to sign up.

The HVCA and ECA, which share the same west London office building, have been at loggerheads for over four months in a bitter dispute over electrical workers’ wages and conditions.

This has seen the HVCA join forces with seven of the industry’s largest electrical contractors to draw up a wage deal for 6,000 electrical workers previously jointly run by the ECA. This has sparked widespread protests including a sit-in of a contractor’s headquarters, violent clashes with police and the threat of the biggest private sector strike ballot for 10 years.

A source close to the situation said the HVCA’s rebrand would “be bound to increase tensions.”

Last month, a coalition of trade bodies, including the ECA, the Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation, the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors and Scottish body Select, criticised the HVCA’s actions, saying it was “damaging” the industry.

In a statement Blane Judd, chief executive of the HVCA, said the organisation was changing its name to respond to client demand for an “integrated, one-stop-shop” approach to building and engineering services.

A spokesperson for the HVCA stressed the organisation was “not looking to recruit single discipline electricians” and that the ECA had been made aware of the re-branding in advance.

The ECA was unavailable for comment.