President reports excellent progress

HVCA president John Miller has re-stated his Association’s commitment to reforming and reshaping the industrial relations culture across building services engineering – and to the work currently being undertaken to harmonise employment terms and conditions across the mechanical and electrical sectors.
“We are working closely with the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and SELECT in Scotland to develop a single working rule agreement covering the two disciplines,” said Mr Miller.
And he confirmed that the excellent progress being made on the issue had led him to be hopeful that, by the middle of the year, a sufficient consensus would have been achieved among the employers bodies for meaningful dialogue to begin with the trade union.
“Probably the principal issue yet to be fully resolved is the precise nature of the infrastructure required to administer a combined agreement,” the president acknowledged – pointing out that the Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry, for example, had: “No locus whatsoever as far as the mechanical sector is concerned”.
“HVCA members remain resolute in their belief that a new, purpose-built framework is required to accommodate new relationships, new working practices and new technologies,” he said.
John Miller also stressed that this initiative was being treated entirely separately from the discussions on convergence that had been taking place between the ECA and HVCA officers in recent months, around: “Our shared vision of a single organisation to represent mechanical and electrical contractors”.
He explained that a survey form had been mailed to every ECA and HVCA member, upon which they were being urged to record their views on two central issues.
“Firstly, we have asked them to support the concept of convergence – of the creation of a single organisation for M&E contractors.
“Secondly, we have asked them to support the formation of a Convergence Board that will examine the views so far expressed by members – and produce a model for a single organisation upon which the membership can, in the fullness of time, be consulted.
“The outcome of the survey, while in no way binding in itself, will be reported to the Councils of the two Associations at their meetings in March and April – at which some decisions may be taken that could have a great deal of significance for the sector.”
In the meantime, HVCA was also planning the launch ­- some time in the spring of this year – of: “Arrangements that will provide a framework for a more formal relationship” between the HVCA and the labour agencies that were becoming an increasingly prominent feature of today’s employment landscape.
“I believe that, taken together, these two initiatives – the combined working rule agreement and the labour agency arrangements – will bring us several important steps closer to achieving a joined up approach to the management of industrial relations across building services engineering, and to the development of working practices that will deliver genuine improvements in productivity across the industry.”

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