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Workers protest in Cardiff against BESNA proposal

About 30 workers protested at a Cardiff hospital last week in the latest action against seven companies’ plan to withdraw from the Joint National Board agreement.

The protest was directed at Spie Matthew Hall, which is working on a project at the hospital.

Spie is one of seven firms that wish to introduce the Building Engineering Services National Agreement, a replacement agreement developed by the HVCA.

Trade union Unite says the proposal would introduce a ‘semi-skilled’ grade of worker and reduce the average wage by up to 35 per cent.

Unite regional officer Graham Smith said: “Skilled craftsmen are angry that their employers are attacking their skills and trying to impose semi-skilled grades into their industry without any negotiation with their unions.

“Workers have been told: sign new contracts or face the sack. Workers in Wales cannot afford to take the massive cuts to their pay these firms are proposing.”

Earlier this month Balfour Beatty took legal action to stop sections of its workforce striking over the issue. Unite said it was preparing to re-ballot members within Balfour Beatty Engineering Services over industrial action.

The Electrical Contractors Association has teamed up with three other bodies to oppose the proposals from the HVCA.

The ECA was joined by the Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation, the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors and Scottish electrical contractors’ body Select.

The HVCA said it was “disappointed” by comments from the four.

The firms looking to introduce BESNA are Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Bailey Building Services, T Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, Shepherd Engineering Services and Spie Matthew Hall.