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Unite calls for Balfour Beatty strikes

Balfour Beatty staff are being reballoted for a strike in an escalation of a dispute between the company and its electrical engineers.

The union Unite, will ballot its members next week over changes to a 40-year old wage structure which bosses regard as outdated.


In a statement, the union said: “Unite, the UK’s largest union, has today announced its plan to re-ballot members employed at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) for strike action over the employer-led attacks on the skills and pay of workers in the sector.”


It is the second time members have been asked to down tools, after 81% voted in favour of a strike in November last year. The union was forced to backtrack then over alleged irregularities.


The dispute centres around proposals to ditch the existing wage agreement in favour of a new set of conditions known as the Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA).


Bosses at BBES, as well as those of seven other contractors, believe BESNA is essential for securing jobs and modernising the M&E industry.
Unite claims the new conditions amount to an “emnployers charter on an unwuilling workforce.”


Unite national officer, Bernard McAuley, said: “Unite members made it abundantly clear that they do not agree with their employer’s imposition when they voted for strike action by an overwhelming 80 per cent in our last ballot.


“If BBES prefers to use anti-union laws and imposition, the company will continue to alienate the workforce rather than find a solution to the issues facing the industry.”


In a statement, BBES said a plurality of its employees understood and accepted the conditions. The statement said: “BBES is disappointed Unite has announced another strike ballot at this time

 

We have had 850 employees sign and return their contracts to date, a figure which is increasing daily. With 83.5% of our Building Services business now signed up it is clear that our employees understand the importance of the BESNA to our business, securing jobs and modernising our industry.”


“BBES would urge Unite to reconsider its position with regard to the strike ballot announced today and re engage in useful dialogue regarding the implementation of the BESNA through ACAS. We would also encourage Unite to listen to the clear message being sent by the majority of BBES employees who have already signed and returned their BESNA contracts.”

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