Thursday, 2 February 2012

Unite the Union - Press Release

Unite reports construction firms to the OFT in groundbreaking move

Britain’s largest union, Unite, announced today (1 February) that it would be reporting seven major construction firms to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for acting in anti-competitive way to drive down the pay and conditions of their workforces.

The complaint, the first of its kind made by a union, claims that the companies are breaking competition law by tearing up Joint Industry Boards agreements and working together to set new pay and conditions which are not agreed by Unite. 
The groundbreaking move reflects concerns that the companies are acting as a cartel by cutting pay and conditions which allows them to undercut their rivals. 
The historic complaint comes ahead of tomorrow’s (Thursday, 2nd February) strike ballot result across Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES), which was prompted when workers were told to sign up to the poorer contracts or face the sack.  
The seven construction firms including BBES are, NG Bailey Building Services, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES) and T. Clarke Plc.
Unite national officer for construction, Bernard McAuley said: “These seven companies are trying to undermine long-standing agreements which have served this industry well for decades. These agreements acted as level playing field in the construction sector. By breaking away and paying significantly less, these employers will have a competitive advantage over other companies. We hope Balfour Beatty and the companies involved see sense in the face of the complaint we are making to the OFT.”
Note to news desks:
  • Despite the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme by the coalition, Balfour Beatty continues to pick up a significant proportion of public sector spending on education infrastructure.
  • In the 12 months to October 2011, it was involved in 47 contracts in the sector with a combined value of £345m.
  • Balfour Beatty has also been shortlisted for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital redevelopment contract, worth £70 million and NG Bailey benefited to the tune of £27 million pounds for undertaking the mechanical & electrical work on Aberdeen Hospital.

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