Tower crane drivers from Sheffield firm go on strike in pay dispute

Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe
Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Nearly 200 tower crane drivers employed by a Sheffield firm have walked out on strike in a pay dispute.

Workers at HTC Plant held the first of three national one-day walkouts planned for this month – putting work on hold at several construction projects around the country.

(l-r) Paul Gething, Simon Pantry, Mark Shawcross and Callum Wing, members of the UCATT union are protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Paul Gething, Simon Pantry, Mark Shawcross and Callum Wing, members of the UCATT union are protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

About 20 workers held a picket line outside the company’s Sheffield base on Grange Mill Lane, Blackburn.

The dispute comes after construction trade union Ucatt rejected the offer of a three per cent pay rise.

A vote over strike action was supported by more than 90 per cent of union members on a turnout of more than 80 per cent.

Projects set to be affected by the action include the London Bridge redevelopment and the Crossrail project, also in London.

Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

Further strikes are planned for Fridays, November 14 and 21.

Union leaders said they are taking action as crane drivers ‘have seen their pay plummet in real terms’, because of a series of pay freezes since 2008.

Steve Murphy, Ucatt general secretary, said: “HTC needs to understand crane drivers believe they deserve a decent pay rise and are prepared to fight to win one. The only people who can prevent chaos is HTC.”

Dave Holder, HTC Plant director and general manager, said the company considers its pay increase offer to be ‘fair and reasonable’.

Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

Members of the UCATT union protest outside HTC, Grange Mill Lane, Sheffield, over pay. Picture: Andrew Roe

In a letter to customers, Mr Holder said the average projected earnings for a tower crane operator at the company was more than £42,000 per year.

He said: “We eel our offer is fair and reasonable and significantly above the current rate of inflation.”