Around 50 scaffolders began a 48-hour strike over pay on Monday at British Steel’s Scunthorpe plant in Lincolnshire.
Workers held socially-distanced picket lines.
Socialist Worker supporter Trevor Jones, who went to the picket to show solidarity, reports that it was a “solid strike with workers in good spirits”.
One striking worker said, “I rely on overtime at the moment to survive. If we win it will mean a better quality of life, more time with the family.”
The Unite union members are responsible for the maintenance of over 500 scaffolding structures at the site. They are employed by contractor Brand Energy.
The pay dispute began in 2019.
Workers are demanding to be paid in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (Naeci).
There is a difference of £2 an hour between their current pay rates and the established Naeci pay rates.
Since 2019, Brand Energy has refused to engage with Unite over the pay dispute.
The workforce responded by delivering a 100 percent yes vote in favour of strikes.
Further strikes were set for Monday and Wednesday next week and on the same days the following week.
Unite says the dispute is made more complex as Brand Energy will lose the scaffolding contract on 15 February when it will transfer to another firm, Activo.
If the matter is not resolved, Unite will begin balloting for fresh industrial action with Activo, once the contract transfers.
Unite regional officer John McIntyre said, “There are clear pay rates established for this type of highly skilled work and Brand Energy are deliberately undermining them.
“Our members play a crucial role maintaining safety on the British Steel site and deserve to be paid the correct rate for the job.”