With the UK construction industry already facing materials shortages and delivery problems, the timing could not be much worse. The UK is already short of 100,000 truck drivers.
The 200 plus lorry drivers and engineers employed by Hanson UK have rejected a pay offer of 2.5% for this year. They say that, with retail price index (RPI) inflation currently at 3.9%, a 2.5% rise amounts to a pay cut in real terms.
The drivers deliver dry Castle cement to projects that include Hinkley Point, HS2, Sellafield and Thames Tideway. They also supply building product companies such as Marshalls and merchant outlets such as Jewson.
The ballot will open on Friday 10th September and close on Friday 23th September. If members vote for strike action industrial action could begin in October.
Hanson UK is owned by Germany’s HeidelbergCement.
Adrian Jones, national officer of Unite, the union that represents the drivers, 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.”
The average pay for lorry drivers in the UK is £32,500 a year according to totaljobs.com. Selco Builders Warehouse is currently offering drivers a starting rate of £37,440 a year. Construction company Mick George is offering new drivers a £2,000 training package and £40,000 a year starting salary on obtaining their HGV (Class 2) license. Construction logistics specialist Wincanton is offering £50,000 a year for HGV Class 1 drivers. Grocery chain Waitrose has recently advertised for lorry drivers offering pay of up to £53,780.