National Operative Agreement

Working rules, wages, terms and conditions for Operatives in the industry are contained in the National Agreement, operated jointly between the trade union, Unite (on behalf of Operatives) and B&ES (on behalf of Employers). This National Agreement is the centrepiece of employee relations in the H&V contracting sector of the industry and is used mainly by companies engaged on industrial and commercial pipefitting and ductwork installation.

As part of running a business effectively, it is important that the management of employees is as professional as all other aspects of the company's management. Using the Operative National Agreement as the backbone of the contract of employment of Operatives employed by your business ensures:

  • the rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment you use are widely recognised by clients and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for tendering purposes;
  • a “level playing field” between competing contractors as regards the pay and terms and conditions of employment for Operatives, leading to less poaching of labour and allowing contractors to compete on efficiency and technical grounds;
  • the employment package keeps pace with employment legislation, leading to certainty in employers' employment practices; and
  • long-term labour price and industrial relations stability, avoiding the need for company negotiations.

The Operative National Agreement sets hourly rates for:

1. all grades of craft employees – including Foremen and unskilled Mates;

2. site-based pipefitting grades employed on HVAC work on certain ("Category 1") engineering construction sites; and

3. Apprentices and Ductwork Installation Trainees

Enquiries from employers about the application, interpretation or implementation of the Agreement may be made to any member of the B&ES Employment Affairs Department team, email:; or telephone any of the Department's Employee Relations Advisers.

Alternatively, individual employees may be advised by their employer to contact the appropriate Amicus official, whose details can be found at Appendix J of the Agreement.

The union's website is at



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