Unite has welcomed the announcement by contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey that they remain committed to the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement and the training of fully qualified electricians.
Unite’s genuine concerns about deskilling were raised earlier this year, after it emerged that the two companies were part of an alliance at Hinkley Point C (HPC), who were seeking to introduce training standards for a new position of electrical support operative at the development.
The new training standards, which amounted to the deskilling of electricians, had not been discussed with Unite and the union immediately objected to the proposals, which were therefore never implemented.
The plans to introduce deskilling training standards led to widespread protests by Unite electricians across the UK.
As a result of the pressure by Unite and the protests, Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey have now, following discussions with the union, issued a statement which includes the confirmation that: “The disputed Electrical training standards developed by the ECITB (Engineering Construction Training Board) for HPC to create the electrical support operative have been permanently withdrawn by EDF after Unite raised concerns.”
They have gone on to state that these standards; “do not form part of our current or future development plans”, which Unite further welcomes.
Unite national officer for construction, Jerry Swain, said, “This statement is welcomed and provides clear clarification that the companies are committed to the JIB and the future training of fully qualified electricians.
“Unite’s position was clear from the outset that it would oppose any efforts to weaken the skillset and training of electricians.
“Now that this matter has been put to bed it is imperative that everyone involved in the construction industry commits to work together
“This must include how we improve and increase the training of workers to ensure that the sector is an attractive and financially rewarding option for workers.
“Unite has during this period simply sought to protect our highly qualified members against any dilution of their skills.”
By Barckley Sumner