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Workers in rolling programme of demonstrations

Construction workers have started a series of demonstrations that began at the ConocoPhilips refinery yesterday (15 February) in protest against moves by seven major construction employers to cut pay by up to 35% and de-skill their workforces. Construction workers also demonstrated outside the Electrical Contractors Association's (ECA) annual dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 15 February.

ConocoPhilips refinery

Workers are angry at plans by Balfour Beatty and another six break-away construction companies for imposing semi-skilled grades in the mechanical and electrical sector. This move is expected to decimate the sector, leading to skilled workers being forced to work on semi-skilled grades and losing a third of their pay.

The so-called Building Engineering Services National Agreement' (BESNA) is the name given to the set of proposed contractual changes.

Unite's national officer Bernard McAulay said: "Our members are rightly angry. They are having their pay slashed, they are being de-skilled and their industry is being casualised. Unite is determined to defend its members against this attack. The workers will escalate their rolling programme of protests against these seven rogue empoyers which are de-skilling their workforces and cutting their pay by up to 35%.

"We will not stop until the employers have returned to the negotiating table for a constructive dialogue. We want discussions with all stakeholders in the industry. Unite supports modernisation and improving the industry, but this is a power grab, with the workers taking all the pain."

Unite points out that this is not a call for unofficial strike action. It is Unite’s understanding that those involved in the demonstrations are doing so outside of work hours to avoid any suggestion that this is unofficial strike action.

The seven major break-away contractors currently involved are: Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited; N G Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); and T.Clarke PLC.

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