Company admits it will replace skilled workers with agency staff on lower wages

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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 site meetings on Monday with shop floor workers at Sellafield and Conoco Phillips refinery, senior Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) human resource managers 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 BBES over its move to impose new contracts and to withdraw from long standing collective agreements with the Joint Industry Boards. The ballot closes on Tuesday 29th November.

Watch our latest film report on the sparks’ campaign here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkFk_Ipv5Hc


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