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Workers sign up for BESNA

The start of 2012 has seen more than 70 per cent of workers sign up to the Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA).

Early indications show that more than seventy per cent of the workers who were asked to sign up to the BESNA have so far returned signed contracts to their employers.

This is despite continued attempts by Unite the Union to oppose the introduction of the new agreement.

The employees were given BESNA contracts by seven leading construction companies, who are introducing the new agreement with the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA).

While the overall figure stands at around seventy percent, companies are reporting some areas of their business are even higher.

For example, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services has seen 95.5 per cent of contracts returned from employees in their building services division.

Some of the companies’ regional offices are still gathering signed contracts, so the overall response rate may change.

A further update on the number of returned contracts will be provided towards the end of January, along with the final total of employees who have been asked to sign up to BESNA.

Blane Judd, the HVCA’s chief executive, said: “We’re extremely encouraged by this early feedback. I’ve spoken with the companies and all of them are confident that more positive responses will follow as people review the facts about BESNA and what it means for them.

“This agreement is vital for the future of our industry; it will help to secure jobs and win new contracts.”

Shepherd Engineering Services chief executive Peter Lewis said: “The response from our employees has been very positive. To be frank, our complete focus on this issue has been on ensuring an exhaustive, detailed and transparent engagement with our people.

“We have spent an awful lot of face to face time on this. Ninety-two per cent of our work force have signed up for the BESNA arrangements and that total is increasing daily.

“When it has come to rational discussion and dealing with any original concerns that have come from the wider publicity, our employees have engaged with us in a really proactive way.

“They have agreed, understood and supported the need to modernise how we do things and the benefits BESNA will bring everyone.  We have always seen this as a way of making sure we can maximise direct employment well into the future.”

Martin Bailey from NG Bailey, added: “Over 90 per cent of our workforce have signed and returned their contracts to date, a figure which continues to rise.

“It is clear from discussions with our employees that they understand the importance of the BESNA and are not persuaded by the sensational headlines, such as the notion that workers will get a pay cut.”

BESNA aims to benefit employers and employees in several ways, including:

  • Pay parity across all trade disciplines, resulting in increases for nearly a third of workers.
  • Safeguarding of jobs.
  • Broader training opportunities for apprentices.
  • Upskilling opportunities for many employees.    
  • Increased on-site efficiency and business competitiveness.

The seven companies working with HVCA to introduce BESNA are Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, NG Bailey, Shepherd Engineering Services, SPIE Matthew Hall and T Clarke.

Any workers who do not sign and return their contracts this month will be contacted by their employer to discuss any concerns that they may have. 

Indeed, one-to-one meetings have already taken place at some companies and many employees signed their new contracts once their remaining questions were addressed.

The BESNA terms and conditions will come into effect during the last week in March and the first week of April 2012.