Balfour Beatty Engineering Services is to delay plans to introduce new BESNA contracts for its employees after threatened strike action.

The decision follows planned strike action and threats from the Teamsters union in the US against Beatty's US operations.

Balfour is the biggest of seven members of the Heating & Ventilation Contractors Association (HVCA) that was proposing to introduce new contract conditions, called Building Engineering Services National Agreement (Besna), in place of long-standing Joint Industry Boards (JIB) agreements.

The imposition of the new contracts by BBES was at the heart of a long running dispute that prompted electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers to vote overwhelmingly for strike action twice.

The withdrawal of the contracts follows talks between Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services chief executive Mike Peasland. They will be followed by further high level talks.

A joint statement issued by Unite and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services said: "The current dispute between Unite and the seven companies who are promoting the BESNA agreement is causing serious concern within the industry and threatens to escalate into a damaging conflict.

The objective of the seven companies was to address perceived shortcomings within current working rules agreements and to offer ways to create a more modern approach in the current competitive environment.