Cement shortage fears amid drivers’ strike ballot

Image: Hanson

Drivers working for Hanson, on a contract for Castle Cement, are set to vote on whether or not to take industrial action over a pay dispute, raising fears of a cement shortage.

Around 200 lorry drivers and engineers, who are members of the Unite union, have rejected the offer of a 2.5% pay rise for this year, arguing that it represents a real-term pay cut against RPI inflation, which is currently 3.9%.

Unite also claimed that workers were unhappy about Hanson’s management style.

Should action go ahead, there are concerns it could disrupt supplies of cement, straining construction supply chains further.

The drivers deliver dry cement to construction projects including Hinkley Point, HS2, Sellafield and Thames Tideway, as well as supplying products firms such as Marshalls and Jewson.

The ballot is due to open on 10 September and close on 23 October. Any strike action could begin in October.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones 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 UK CEO Simon Willis said: “Our negotiations are ongoing, so we are unable to give any further details concerning the discussions at this time.

“We are committed to arriving at an agreeable settlement so that we will be able to continue to supply our customers, as we have done throughout the pandemic and during the current levels of high demand for our products.”

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