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Electricians' vote is a 'slap in the face' to AEEU over pay recommendations Sparks spurn union deal

ELECTRICIANS have voted substantially against a controversial pay-and- conditions deal recommended by their union.

Union negotiators from the AEEU - who spent nine months thrashing out the deal with the Electrical Contractors' Association - were meeting to discuss their next move as Construction News went to press.

The troubled deal, which sparked a one-day national strike last month, was comfortably

defeated in England, Wales and Scotland by 5,224 votes to 3,656. The union balloted 28,000 members and 8,880 votes were received.

The sparks turned down a total pay rise of 28 per cent over three years in a deal which

included changes to travel allowances, a more flexible working approach, and the introduction of a skilled mechanical assembler pay grade.

The new pay grade was the major sticking point, with the electricians claiming it was

a way of deskilling the industry by introducing labourers to do the work of skilled electricians.

AEEU shop stewards had been pushing for members to reject the deal and were prepared to launch a legal action if the ballot decision had gone against them.

Robert Sherry, a shop steward at Kvaerner Redpath's site at Methil in Fife, said the

vote showed the strength of feeling against the deal. He said: 'From the shop stewards' point of view it was a slap in the face for the union. It showed that it was completely out of touch with its members.'

Mr Sherry said shop stewards would be looking for greater consultation with the union in the fresh round of negotiations that was bound to follow.

He said: 'We are asking the union to consult more closely with the stewards. We want to see a sub-committee of stewards set up to consult with the negotiators throughout the talks.'

The Electrical Contractors' Association was clearly disappointed by the outcome of the ballot. In a statement it said it 'regretted' the rejection of the proposal, which was the result of months of negotiation. The association said it would be meeting with union negotiators in the near future to discuss the next move.