|The construction industry will face severe cement shortages this autumn, if lorry drivers employed by Hanson, on the Castle Cement contract, vote for strike action in a dispute over pay.
The 200-plus lorry drivers and engineers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, have rejected a pay offer of 2.5 per cent for this year. With the RPI inflation rate currently at 3.9 per cent, this amounts to a hefty pay cut in real terms.
In addition to pay, the workforce is deeply unhappy about the high handed management style and a marked lack of dignity at work.
The drivers deliver dry cement. They supply large construction projects, including Hinkley Point, HS2, Sellafield and Thames Tideway. They also supply building product companies including Jewson and Marshalls.
If strikes do occur then both large and small construction projects will swiftly run short of cement as many only have limited storage facilities.
The ballot will open on Friday 10 September and close on Friday 23 September. If members vote for strike action industrial action could begin this October.
Real terms pay cut
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Our members are simply not going to accept a pay offer which amounts to a pay cut in real terms.
“With the ongoing driver shortage, our members are seeking a pay increase which recognises their hard work and dedication.
“If strikes do occur then it will have major implications for the construction industry. Supplies of cement will quickly run out, which will result in projects being delayed.
“Hanson’s is simply not giving its drivers the respect they deserve. This is apparent in their working conditions and their pay.
“The solution is in Hanson’s hands. The company needs to return to the negotiating table and demonstrate genuine changes to the way our members are managed and make an offer on pay that reflects the current challenges in the industry and the commitment our members give to the company.
“Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.”