Unite is calling into question the ability of the Heating Ventilation Contractors Association to take over from the Joint Industry Boards to deliver improved industrial relations and apprenticeship training in the electrical and plumbing trades.
Unite has concerns over the financial stability of the HVCA which has failed to balance its books for the last two years.
Unite national officer, Bernard McAulay said: “It is very worrying that the HVCA wants to expand its role in delivering hugely contravers
“We can only question why Balfour Beatty, Crown House and the others want to put their lot in with an organisation that is seemingly inefficient.”
In the year ending February 2011, the HVCA ran up a deficit of £303,644, as income fell from £14,291,616 to £13,427,823, while staff remuneration increased, from £7,286,376 to £7,364,049. This followed a loss in the previous 12-month period up to February 2010 of £17,020.
Unite also questions whether the HVCA’s training provider - Building Engineering Services Training Limited (BEST) will be the best organisation to solely deliver all electrical and plumbing apprenticeship training, as is currently being proposed by the break-away employers.
In the year ending February 2010, BEST returned a loss of £74,826 compared with a profit in the previous year of £29,298. And on the last comparable figures (2008/9), BEST’s Advanced Apprenticeships pass rate was a only 65%, significantly worse than the JIB’s biggest electrical training provider, JTL which enjoys an 80% success rate.
“Unite is very concerned that BEST is to be HVCA’s sole training agent, yet its success rate for advanced apprenticeships is much worse than the JTL and many other existing training providers. BEST also can’t balance its books,” added Bernard McAulay.
Unite believes HVCA is muscling in on new areas to compensate for its financial difficulties. The union has been told that the HVCA will replace the JIBs and manage; the HVCA’s SKILLcard which will replace all current skills cards; BEST - (Building Engineering Services Training) will act as the sole training agent; the Welpan benefits scheme, will replace the electrical and the plumbing schemes and Welpan pensions (formerly known as H&V pensions) will become the pension scheme. All of the above are wholly-owned by the HVCA.
Unite has rejected the proposals and wants the break-away seven to return to negotiations through the JIBs . The companies have attempted to impose their new agreement, with de-skilling at its core, on Unite and its members . Five of the seven have written to their employees and threatened to dismiss workers on December 7th, who will not sign new contracts.
Unite’s rank and file members have reacted with fury over this attack on their livelihoods and have participated in nationwide protests over the last few months and which are set to continue.
Comparisons between training providers are available from the Framework for excellence website at: ffe.skillsfundingagency.bis.
The seven major break-away contractors currently involved are:Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited; N G Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); T. Clarke Plc.
Unite has been told by these major employers that they will no longer be party to the following agreements: JIB (Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry); SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry); JIB-PMES (Joint Industry Board for Plumbing Mechanical Engineering Services in England and Wales); SNIJIB (Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board for the Plumbing Industry); HVAC (National Agreement for the Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, Piping and Domestic Engineering Industry); MPA (Major Projects Agreement).