Union could hold ballot on industrial action after 91% of workers reject a 5% two-year pay deal

Thousands of electricians and labourers have rejected a 5% two-year pay deal in a ballot run by union Unite.

Unite balloted more than 7,000 electricians and labourers and 91% rejected the pay package of 2% from January 2015 and 3% from January 2016.

Unite said the offer was “woefully inadequate, given soaring household bills”.

A meeting of shop stewards from across the UK on 4 August will decide the next steps, which could include an industrial action ballot.

Unite members also objected to the planned introduction of an entrant grade, with an 18 month probationary period at a pay rate 25% less than the labourers’ grade, which the union said was a “slippery slope to a deskilled workforce”.

The average electrician is paid £29,000, according to Unite.

Unite national officer for the construction industry Bernard McAulay urged the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and its Scottish counterpart Select, which represent more than 1,000 employers, to return to the negotiating table.

McAulay said: “The pay offer is woefully inadequate as the cost of living continues to soar. Pay packets are being eroded in real terms, while companies still chalk up handsome profits”

McAulay added: “The cynical approach by both employer associations is yet another direct attack on our electrical members’ terms and conditions in a bid to drive down wages of highly skilled workers.

“The decisive result of the consultative ballot clearly demonstrates that the workforce cannot be bought off when the future stability of the industry grading structure and hard won skills sets are being put at stake.

“Unite will continue to fight very hard to ensure that electricians and labourers across the UK receive the pay and enjoy the terms and conditions that are clearly set-out in the national agreements. There will be no hiding place for bad employers.”