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Balfour Beatty to replace 1,300 skilled jobs with semi-skilled agency labour
Unite has learnt that Balfour Beatty Engineering Services intend to cut up to 1,300 directly employed skilled electricians by semi-skilled agency labour in its move to de-skill the industry and sack workers who do not sign up to inferior contracts.
At a recent site meeting with shop floor workers at Sellafield, a senior Balfour Beatty Engineering Services human resource manager confirmed that it was the intention of the company to maintain a core workforce of skilled trades and bring in semi-skilled agency labour to make up the teams. These teams would consist of one craftsman, working with eight semi-skilled installer grades.
Unite has always warned that this would lead to the loss of a third of pay for those who were not employed on the skilled grades, but this goes even further as agency labour will lose all security that directly employed workers enjoy.
Unite national officer, Bernard McAulay said: “This confirms the worst of our fears for the workers in this industry. Balfour Beatty Engineering Services are not content with de-skilling, they want to get rid of job security for all but a small core of directly employed skilled workers.
Out of around 1,700 directly employed skilled workers, only 300/400 will remain employed. This is an unprecedented attack on the wages and security of workers. If BBES get away with this the rest of the industry will follow and will lead to instability on a massive scale.
Unite members are currently being balloted for strike action at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services over the move by BBES to impose new contracts and to withdraw from long standing collective agreements with the Joint Industry Boards.
The ballot closes on Tuesday 29th November.
Urgent update on the new BESNA proposals
The employers new assurances - nothing new and nothing assuring
The HVCA and their band of employers have said they have listened to the concerns of the workers and have changed the 'BESNA' proposals.
But they don't address the most important change of all - the de-skilling of the trades, with the introduction of eight installer grade to one skilled crafts worker and the huge impact this will have on your wages.
It doesn't address the fact that there will be no independent and objective grading structure for operatives.
There is still no commitment to direct employment.
They claim that the 37.5 hour working week will be spread out from Monday to Friday. BUT still with the clause "unless site rules dictate otherwise" so this is a worthless assurance and will allow your employer to dictate the length of working day resulting in the loss of overtime pay.
Also, it doesn't remove the threat of "bell to bell" working which means clocking facilities close to your work so you won't get paid for walking across large sites.
They also claim to have removed the provision for lay off and short term working from BESNA, but not having sight of a revised draft we cannot take this assurance either.
Finally there remains in BESNA the ability of the employer to combine the paid morning rest break with the unpaid lunch break which will result in you losing your morning paid break.
Don't be fooled. This is an employer's charter with the sole purpose of cutting costs and driving down wages and terms and conditions.