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Electricians protest against agreement withdrawal

Around 1500 electricians are expected to stage a demonstration at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford today as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and de-skilling of the industry.

The demonstration comes after 300 electricians staged a protest outside Balfour Beatty’s Blackfriars Station site last week.

The dispute has been sparked after eight major electrical contractors announced their intention to withdraw from the Joint Industry Board national industry agreement in March 2012.

The firms include Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, MJN Colston, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall.

The employers are proposing a new agreement which will spread across all trades.

Protesters allege the new agreement will involve reducing the average wage by up to 35 per cent and introducing a new grade of worker.

According to an anonymous email from one protester the new grade will be a semi-skilled worker who will install all of the containment and wiring.

The email said:  “This currently makes up 60 per cent of electricians work, so they are not only cutting wages, they are cutting the amount of electricians in the industry as well as cutting out all of the National Working Agreements like the JIB.

“With the need for electricians being 60 per cent lower, the number of apprenticeships will fall dramatically in an industry that desperately needs young people coming through.”