Balfour/Bailey U-turn ends Hinkley electricians’ dispute

A joint venture between Balfour Beatty / NG Bailey and customer EDF have turned a plan to use “unskilled” workers for electrical work at Hinkley Point C (HPC).

Electricians staged protests against plans by the JV to hire “engineering workers” to perform tasks such as containment. The Unite union said such activities were the bread and butter of electricians’ work.

The union, HPC and the JV started talks on the plan in March. This week the JV announced that EDF had “withdrawn” plans to deploy the agents.

Unite National Site Supervisor Jerry Swain said, “Unite’s position was clear from the start that it would oppose any effort to weaken the skills and training of electricians. Now that this matter is resolved, it is imperative that everyone involved in the construction industry commit to working together. “

Plans for the activists’ work go back to a 2012 agreement between HPC and the union. It made it possible for the 23 billion pound project to be split between 60 percent artisanal electricians and 40 percent low-skilled workers, including construction workers and apprentices.

Unite said in March that it was committed to the agreement but declined to introduce the new operational standards without discussion.

The 40 percent grant for the low-skilled was agreed in return for the fact that contractors pay the craftsmen-electricians above the national average. This was due to concerns that the project, located in the sparsely populated southwest, would not be able to find enough electricians on site and struggle to attract skilled workers from other parts of the country.

Under the terms of the agreement, craft level electricians will receive £ 18.90 per hour starting January 2016 with an annual RPI adjustment. The less skilled civil engineering workers would get £ 13.64 an hour.

Major electrical work for the Hinkley Point C project has yet to begin, with only a relatively small number of electricians currently working on the work.

Last month, HPC said it will need around 1,700 additional workers over the next 12 months as the project kicks off. HPC said it will continue to work with colleges and training institutions in Somerset to train local people to work on the project.

EDF declined to comment. Balfour Beatty was asked for a comment.

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