UK construction projects face major disruption as crane operators vote to strike

Crane operators at the UK’s largest mobile crane hire firm, Ainscough, have delivered a wake-up call to management, after voting overwhelmingly for strike action in a pay dispute.

Unite, the country’s biggest union, is urging Ainscough to improve its pay offer to avert potential serious disruption on construction sites and major projects across the UK, after the decisive rejection of the company’s pitiful two-year deal.

The Unite members rejected the company’s revised two year pay offer of 2.5 per cent and 2.75 per cent, amid warnings that it failed to recognise the workforce’s contribution to last year’s £14 million profits.

The union’s 500 crane operator and support staff members, who operate lifting services on UK construction projects including, on the M1 and M6 motorway upgrades and the new Forth Road Bridge, voted by 90 per cent for strike action, on an 83 per cent turnout. Over 90 per cent voted for action short of a strike.

A series of escalating strikes are planned across the company’s 30 UK-wide depots, starting on 1 February to 23 March. A programme of overtime bans will begin on 30 January to 20 March.

Unite national officer for construction Bernard McAulay, said:

“The strength of this strike ballot result should serve as a wake-up call to management. Our members are highly skilled crane operatives working on some of the UK’s premier construction sites in challenging conditions. They deserve better from their multi-million profit making employer.

“Our members’ hard work, skills and dedication have helped make Ainscough the highly profitable and respected business it is today. They are justifiably angry that the company can boast of making a £14 million profit last year and yet offer a derisory pay increase in return.

“Ainscough needs to heed this warning and come back to the negotiating table with an improved pay offer or risk major disruption to its UK-wide operations. Our members are seeking a pay deal that recognises the dynamic and specialist skills they have.”