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BESNA Protests – Update

21 Feb

Please find the details of our protests and demonstrations on Wednesday 22 February at the remaining companies imposing the BESNA agreement.

Assemble at John Smith House, 145 West regent Street,  at 8:30 a.m. for the bus transporting members to the following sites:

  • 9:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m. – T.Clarke PLC in Falkirk
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – N G Bailey Building Services in Bellshill
  • 1 p.m.- 2 p.m. -Portakabin in Hamilton.


There will be a demo directed at NG Bailey one of the BESNA 6  from 10 am – 11am Wednesday 22  at the Morrison’s 215 King Street, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire AB24 5DA.

Please show up and demonstrate your support.


Sparks fly at Aberdeen construction sector protest

27 Jan

Scottish construction workers employed by sector giant NG Bailey protested again this morning as the long-running dispute over industry wide de-skilling and pay cuts intensifies.

70 Unite mechanics and plumbers working on the new Aberdeen Royal Infirmary emergency care centre development demonstrated outside the site against imposed measures which will fuel a race to the bottom across the UK construction sector.

NG Bailey, along with Balfour Beatty and other industry majors are driving through the Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA) which will tear up previous long-standing national agreements and slash pay by up to 30%.

Unite representative David Brockett said, “Unite members are telling NG Bailey and their cohorts in the construction sector that they will not accept their cut and gut agenda.

This BESNA will drive down overall industry standards, not only on pay but on skills, training and health & safety.  The industry majors say this is modernisation.  What’s modern about plunging tens of thousands of skilled workers into the low pay trap and driving industry standards down to the depths?

What we are witnessing is the needless destruction of an essential industry all in the name of corporate greed.  Its immoral and we will resist them every step of the way.”


Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite rep David Brockett on 07784860933 or Peter Welsh in the Scottish Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

Scottish construction workers continue protest as Unite prepares to send out ballot papers

12 Jan

Construction workers in Scotland will continue their protest tomorrow (Friday, 13 January) and Monday (16 January) over the de-skilling and pay cuts being imposed by a group of rogue construction firms.

Up to 100 construction workers, working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES), will be staging their protest outside Grangemouth oil refinery at 6.30am as BBES is a major contractor on site.

Workers from NG Bailey will stage their demonstration at 6.30am on Monday (16 January). This action will take place outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary as NG Bailey is a major contractor working on projects at the hospital.

Unite, Scotland’s largest union,  is currently preparing to send out ballot papers to its members in BBES for industrial action. This ballot follows Balfour Beatty’s failure to step back from imposing contractual changes which will see thousands of workers’ wages cut by a third.

BBES is being balloted first as Unite believes the firm is acting as the ‘ring-leader’ of the break-away employers, with five firms out of the seven threatening to sack workers who refuse to sign the new and inferior contracts. Two further companies will also soon be balloted in the next phase of Unite’s fight to defend its members.

Unite regional officer, Rab Sherry said: “What these firms are proposing is a serious attack on the livelihoods of construction workers who cannot afford to lose a third of their income.

“If these companies get away with de-skilling the industry and slashing the pay of the workers, our members won’t be able to pay their mortgages or earn a living wage to support their families.”


For further information contact Rab Sherry on 07904 057405 or Ashraf Choudhury in the Unite Press Office on 07980 224761 or 020 3371 2061.

Notes to news editors:

In May 2011, BBES, along with six other leading construction companies, informed Unite of its intention to withdraw from five long-standing agreements and impose new semi-skilled grades resulting in massive cuts in pay. The attack will hit electricians, plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers working at sites around Scotland, including the Vellodrome in Glasgow and Grangemouth power station.

The seven major break-away contractors currently involved are: Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited; NG Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); and T. Clarke Plc.

The construction workers' dispute enters a new phase

21 Nov


Unite engineering construction workers protested in Glasgow City Centre on Saturday against seven major construction sector employers tearing up long standing collective agreements. The companies’ reneging on these agreements will lead to the unilateral imposition of a pay cut of about 30%.

This attack affects skilled workers in construction, including electricians, plumbers and heating and ventilation engineers. This attack on our members’ terms and conditions is being lead by Balfour Beatty, in what Jim Sheridan MP described as “a perfect example of corporate greed”.

Balfour Beatty saw a 32% rise in profit last year. We believe this is an opportunistic attempt to use the recession and the political climate to force through changes to terms and conditions that loot the wages of our members to increase profit.

However, Balfour Beatty’s employees are other companies’ customers. When wage packets are reduced, people have less spending power, and so the economy contracts. By cutting wages, companies like this risk forcing the UK back into recession. Conversely, the best way out of recession is to improve wages and terms and conditions so that people can spend back into the economy. For that reason, strong trade unions are vital to economic recovery.

In addition to wage cuts, there are also serious skills and health and safety concerns to the changes, that amount to dangerous cost cutting that could potentially put both construction workers and the public at risk. It is part of a concerted effort to weaken union power in the sector, and it comes on the back of years of blacklisting of union activists.

Here is an earlier video of a construction workers’ demonstration held in Cambuslang on 5 October, in which shop steward John Hay explains the issues.


The dispute with the construction firms has erupted nationally, with regular protest throughout the UK. For instance, here is footage of Scottish engineering construction workers protesting outside a construction industry awards ceremony at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow in October.

This attempt by major companies to undermine collective agreements is the same issue that lead to walk outs at Lindsey refinery in 2009, when the employer tried to undermine the NAECI agreement and use the EU posted workers directive to import cheap foreign labour.

Here is a Union News video report of the current state of the dispute at Lindsey:

There is clearly growing anger, as our members have demonstrated that they are not prepared to accept this assault on their terms and conditions. A major day of action was held in London on 9 November, where general secretary Len McCluskey addressed construction workers.

The anger is also clear to see in this footage shot on the same day as construction workers attempt to join student protesters and the Occupy movement in London.

 – by Walton Pantland

Scottish construction workers march on

18 Nov

Scottish construction workers will continue their fight this Saturday (19th November) against major industry employers intent on ripping-up national agreements and imposing a thirty per cent cut on their terms and conditions.

Following last week’s much-publicised lobby of the Scottish Parliament, Unite Scotland members will march on Glasgow’s City Chambers to increase pressure on the city council’s construction procurement process.

They will also demonstrate outside the offices of commercial property company Land Securities; the holding organisation for the new Buchanan Galleries development and who awarded a £70 million contract to Balfour Beatty for its construction.

Unite Officer Rab Sherry said,

“Our construction workers are determined to fight on and resist this scandalous ‘cut and gut’ exercise by some of the UK’s wealthiest construction companies.

We need all levels of governance in Scotland, from the Scottish Parliament to the local council chamber, to realise what these ‘majors’ are doing will decimate the industry and fuel a race to the bottom in the UK economy.

The employers say this is a ‘modernisation’ agenda.  Where’s the modernisation in de-skilling a crucial industry and plunging thousands of workers and their families into the low-pay trap?”

Five of the seven construction ‘majors’ have already notified workers if they do not accept new and inferior contracts of employment by December 7th, they will be sacked.  Unite members in Balfour Beatty are currently being balloted for strike action, with the result due on November 29th, and the potential to impact key infrastructure projects across the UK.


Notes to Editors:

  • The march will depart from the Unite Scotland Offices, John Smith House,145 West Regent Street, at 10:30AM, passing Bath Street & Buchanan Street, before culminating at the City Chambers in George Square.
  • For further information, please contact Unite Regional Officer Rab Sherry on 07904057405 & Construction Sector Convenor David Brockett on 07784860933 or Peter Welsh in the Scottish Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

Construction Sector Demonstration

5 Oct

Construction workers, who face up to 30 per cent pay cuts because rogue employers are tearing up long held national agreements, demonstrated in good numbers early this morning.

Over 100 local workers staged the latest in a series of ongoing nationwide demonstrations outside the Strathclyde Fire & rescue training centre project in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire.

The project site has been targeted for the protest as its contractor Balfour Beatty is one of the seven employers behind the breakaway move.  The focus of their anger are plans by Balfour Beatty and another six breakaway construction companies to withdraw from five long-held agreements and replace them with a new agreement which will allow employers to introduce semi-skilled grades and dictate rather than negotiate on pay, holiday entitlement, overtime, and what constitutes away work.

Five of the seven ‘majors’ have upped the stakes. Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and NG Bailey have issued Unite with legal notice of their intention to dismiss, with notice, thousands of employees before re-engaging them on new inferior contracts.

You can find out more about Unite’s campaigning efforts in this sector on the national website here.