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Sat November 27 2021

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Tower crane operators to go on strike

28 Oct 14 Tower crane operators at HTC Plant have voted overwhelmingly in support of going on strike.

HTC owns most of the red tower cranes in the UK and a significant proportion of those painted in main contractors’ own colours.

Major construction companies that can expect to have their sites brought to a virtual standstill include Kier, Lend Lease, Bam, Costain, Mace and Vinci. It is against their company policy to send another site worker up the crane if they do not have a recognised operating certification.

Sites that are set to be affected by the industrial action include: Crossrail, the London Bridge redevelopment, Nova Square Victoria, Elephant & Castle redevelopment and the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermarston.

The 180+ crane drivers at HTC Plant who are members of Ucatt voted 94% in favour of strike action and 94.6% in favour of industrial action short of strike action. The turnout was in excess of 80%.

Ucatt is now in consultation with its activists at the company and expects to announce details of the industrial action by the end of the week.

General secretary Steve Murphy said; “This result is so emphatic that there is no doubt that within days key construction sites will grind to a halt.”

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Since 2008 crane drivers at HTC, part of the PC Harrington group, have experienced several pay freezes and have seen their pay plummet in real terms. Ucatt had entered negotiations with HTC but the company failed to table an offer which was even close to the expectations of Ucatt members.

HTC then implemented a 3% pay increase unilaterally, which union members interprested as adding fuel to the flames.

Mr Murphy added: “HTC needs to understand that crane drivers believe that they deserve a decent pay rise and are prepared to fight to win one. The only people who can prevent construction chaos is HTC.””

Ucatt also says that it has seen a surge in membership among crane drivers since announcing the ballot for industrial action.

HTC became one of the UK's top two tower crane fleet owners, along with Select, when it acquired the Hewden Wolff business in 2002 after Cat dealer Finning took over the Hewden group and had no interest in tower cranes. It remains the UK agent for German manufacturer Wolffkran.

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