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[ Focus: Joint Industry Board ]

at an employment tribunal. This service is completely free of charge to JIB members. How does the JIB relate to the ECA and Unite the Union?

Steve Brawley: Basically, the ECA and Unite the Union are our owners, and we deliver services to the industry on their behalf. Our staff of ten (we are much smaller than many people imagine) are highly professional and understand the industry in real depth. One common misunderstanding is over rates of pay and other terms and conditions of employment – some people think that we are responsible for deciding what they are, but that is not the case. The ECA and Unite the Union negotiate the deal and we then publish the agreed terms and provide objective guidance on their application. What do you say to comments that the JIB is inflexible and constrains companies that need to adapt rapidly to changes?

Steve Brawley: I have also heard those comments, but I would argue that the reality is different in practice. Companies certainly do need to be agile to cope with the very demanding pressures in today’s marketplace. The JIB employment package provides a high degree of flexibility and many options across a number of key issues – for example, working hours and the mobility of employees who need to move from one site to another, including working away from home. The JIB is based on the concept of fairness and good

standards. We do expect our members to treat their employees fairly, and this message is underlined in our new member logo. I often say that the JIB is a club that seeks to give its members value for money, and expects its members to adhere to the key club rules. What are the key club rules then? Steve Brawley: As mentioned before, we expect our members to treat people fairly. The hourly rates of pay are very important. Sometimes employers choose to pay a little more to their key people and that is no problem at all. We also require our members to purchase the benefit credit and to ensure that each employee is given an appropriate ECS card and a JIB grade. What about companies who still aren’t paying 2010 rates of pay, when we’re now almost at the end of 2011? Members say they are bidding for jobs against companies that are not adhering to current JIB pay rates, which puts them at a commercial disadvantage. Steve Brawley: In the light of the three-year pay deal that covered 2008-2010, some members who were badly affected by the recession had genuine difficulties in paying in full the five per cent increase which applied to 2010. The ECA and Unite the Union did not reach an agreement on any increase in rates for 2011, and that has given those companies an opportunity to catch up with 2010 rates. Many have done this, but some have not. I strongly recommend that the companies who have not yet caught up should plan to do so by the end of the year, because they risk losing good employees to their competitors. Can anything be done to give JIB members an advantage during the tender process? Steve Brawley: Most definitely – we believe that JIB membership provides clients with real advantages. Our

Background: the JIB

n Established in 1968 by the ECA and the Electrical Trades Union (now Unite the Union) to provide stability after a period of extremely poor industrial relations in electrical contracting during the 1950s and 1960s.

n Provides services to member companies of the JIB and their employees

n Administers the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The scheme recently achieved ISO 9001:2008 certification, and more than 100,000 people currently hold a valid ECS card.

n Provides a pension scheme which will allow employers to comply with the new pension legislation taking effect in 2012.

n The JIB Apprenticeship Scheme has trained more than 150,000 people to full craft status, and there are currently around 12,500 apprentices who are covered by the scheme.

Our members do not tender for work at suicidal rates, using the cheapest labour they can find in the marketplace

members do not tender for work at suicidal rates, using the cheapest labour they can find in the marketplace. The JIB member provides top quality employees who are all competent and experienced in delivering reliably on every contract. Since 90 per cent of our members are also ECA members, we can also quote the value of the ECA bond and guarantee of work to clients. We are about to embark on discussions with local authorities to persuade them to score JIB membership as a plus within their procurement processes. In fact, we are very close to reaching agreement with one local authority on this basis, and I expect others to follow. What’s next for the JIB? Steve Brawley: We are very excited by the

opportunities presented by environmental technologies and the Green Deal. We are working with SummitSkills to ensure that the ECS accredits the skills of individuals who are competent in the electrical aspects of the various technologies. In many cases, this will be simple in that we will endorse the electrician’s ECS card with their expertise in the appropriate field, for example, solar PV. This will help to establish the right competence standards in a new industry where consumers need to be confident that the person undertaking the installation knows what they are doing.

September 2011 ECA Today 45

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