Workers at Ainscough, the large mobile crane company, are preparing to ballot for industrial action in a dispute over pay.
Almost 400 members of the union, Unite, are furious that after nearly eight months of negotiations Ainscough management has tabled a pay offer which will result in most workers experiencing a pay cut.
The current pay offer, which was made following eight separate meetings of pay negotiations, would see basic rates increase by 4.5 per cent, however it would also see enhanced rates for overtime significantly reduced.
Workers undertaking more than 50 hours a week (which is standard practice) will in fact suffer a pay cut.
Further talks have been scheduled for this week (August 16-17), but if there is no breakthrough Unite will immediately move to ballot for strike action, causing widespread disruption on UK construction sites this autumn.
High-profile sites where Ainscough are currently operating include the A14 improvement project and the Philips 66, oil refinery at Immingham in North-East Lincolnshire.
Ainscough say that the business needs to be reorganised, which Unite recognises, however the union says that this should not be at the expense of workers’ pay.
Unite is also concerned about the ‘casualising’ of the workforce, by and increasing practice of replacing highly-skilled crane operators with lower-skilled workers on zero hours’ contracts.
Unite national officer for construction Bernard McAulay said: “The construction industry needs to start making plans for an autumn of anarchy if Ainscough don’t make a substantially improved pay offer.
“The protracted pay talks have been like pulling teeth and the latest offer by Ainscough is entirely unacceptable to our members.
“Unite understands that the company needs to make reforms in the way it operates, and the union is prepared to work with Ainscough on these reforms, but this cannot simply be in the form of a pay cut for our members.
“Ainscough needs to call a halt to their plans to de-skill the workforce, forcing them onto zero hours contracts. They need to remember that it is the skills and professional approach of their workforce which has made them the UK’s Premier crane hire company.”
“The onus is now on Ainscough’s management to sit down and negotiate a sensible pay offer which is of benefit to all concerned.”