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Gratte Brothers condemn “reckless” sparks protestors

Gratte Brothers has called on Unite and the Joint Industry Board to condemn a “violent” protest at its headquarters this morning regarding the proposed BESNA agreement.

The contractor said 40 protestors carrying placards in defence of the existing JIB pay agreement forced their way into its headquarters on Wednesday morning.

It claims a female member of staff was pushed to the ground and that protestors chained the front doors after failing to get beyond reception when they were blocked by staff.

A Gratte Brothers spokesman said:  “This was not a peaceful protest, it was violent and abusive.

“Female staff members found this very intimidating.

“This was an act of trespass by a group of people who do not represent our workforce or the workforce of the other contractors involved in the BESNA process.

“We would expect Unite and the JIB to condemn the actions of these demonstrations.”

The statement came as Balfour Beatty “categorically” refuted claims made by Unite that it plans to cut up to 1,300 directly employed workers and replace them with semi-skilled agency labour.

A Balfour Beatty statement said:  “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.” 

The demonstrations are in protest to plans by seven of the largest M&E contractors to modernise pay agreements for mechanical and electrical workers under the BESNA agreement.

The protestors fear the new deal would result in a de-skilling of the industry, reductions in pay and worse conditions.

The Heating and Ventilation Contractors Association, which represents the seven firms and the BESNA agreement, disputes the protestors claims, arguing the new agreement will bring the industry in line with modern practices.

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