Socialist Worker

‘The job is a nightmare’ say striking Ainscough crane workers

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2490

Ainscough crane strikers picketing in Glasgow on Monday of this week

Ainscough crane strikers picketing in Glasgow on Monday of this week (Pic: Dave Sherry)

Some 500 crane operators and support staff working for Ainscough struck for the second time on Monday of this week.

The Unite union members have rejected the company’s two-year pay offer of 2.5 percent and 2.75 percent.

The dispute is about pay, but many workers are angry over their working hours too.

One worker in London told Socialist Worker, “An operator could be out for 20 hours when you consider having to drive to a site, set up, work for eight hours and then drive back.

“That’s why there are lots of divorces, not having a proper family life. The management take us for granted.”

According to striker Mark, “We work really unsociable hours. I could find out tonight that I’m off to Scotland tomorrow and I can end up doing 16-hour days.

“You can’t make any plans or tell your wife what time you’re going to be home. It’s a nightmare sometimes.

“We are in charge of multi-million pound machines and it’s a dangerous job, but our hourly rate doesn’t reflect that at all. We just want what we’re entitled to.”

Richard added, “Sometimes the job can be a ticking time bomb because of how dangerous it is. There’s a serious lack of appreciation.

“People have worked hard and want to be rewarded. We earn them their money but we don’t see any of it.

“We’re not greedy, we have a massive responsibility here and feel as though we deserve better.”

Unite national officer for construction Bernard McAulay said, “We fear that the drive to lower pay won’t stop with this offer.

“We are extremely concerned that Ainscough is drawing up plans to rip up the industry-wide agreement by introducing zero hours contracts for a pool of workers.”

The company has denied planning to introduce zero hour contracts.

Workers plan a series of escalating strikes across the firm’s 30 depots until 23 March. A programme of overtime bans will run until 20 March.

Talks between the company and the union were set to begin as Socialist Worker went to press.

Sean who has worked in the industry for over two decades said, “It’s got better over the years but it’s still horrible not knowing where you’re going the next day.

“Our demands are not unreasonable. What we’re asking for is nothing.

“Safety before profit is their motto, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Thanks to everyone who sent reports

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