The Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association is pushing ahead with plans to create an approved list of labour agencies.

The plan is opposed by union Amicus on the grounds that it promotes self-employment through labour agencies over direct employment.

Plans to forge closer links with agencies were first mooted in 2006, but the HVCA has confirmed that it will create a new division called the Building Services Engineering Alliance.

Agencies that meet competence criteria similar to those that HVCA’s members comply with will be approved for employment.

Tom Hardacre, Amicus’ head of construction, said his union would be concerned if plans went ahead. He said: “We expect employers to abide by the national agreement, which does not include self-employment.”

Peter Rimmer, the HVCA’s head of employment affairs, said: “At the moment it is simply something to do with our members, but it will be for the alliance to decide at some point whether or not it talks with the unions."

HVCA plans to launch the alliance in spring.