Hold-ups could follow union’s rejection of firm’s 1.6% pay offer

A strike over pay by drivers at four of Cemex’s UK depots could delay construction projects across the country, union bosses have claimed.

Eighty two HGV drivers, all members of Unite, voted 87% in favour of industrial action after rejecting the materials giant’s 1.6% increase on pay and allowances, backdated to 1 July 2016.

Unite said a continuous work to rule would begin on Monday 22 May, followed by an initial 24-hour strike on Friday 26 May. Major construction projects set to be affected by the dispute include work at Heathrow and the Mersey Gateway, the union said.

The drivers, who supply construction material across the UK, are based at four depots: Rugby, Tilbury, Barton-on-Humber in Lincolnshire, and Newport, south Wales.

Unite said the work to rule will include drivers: adhering to 48 hours maximum working week; adhering to 11 hours’ daily rest; adhering to 45 hour weekly rest period; no electronic proof of delivery (Epod) on whilst driving; no unpaid training of drivers, and no supervisor intervention work to be carried out by drivers on Epod.
Adrian Jones, Unite’s national officer for road transport, said: “Cemex was warned that members were never going to accept a pay offer which was effectively a real terms pay cut. The overwhelming yes vote has proved this is the case.
“Cemex still has time to avert this dispute by returning to the negotiating table and making an offer which meets our members’ expectations and properly rewards them for their skills, dedication and hard work.”
“If Cemex doesn’t act and this dispute goes ahead it will create chaos throughout the construction industry. Sites will swiftly run out of materials which will create delays throughout the entire project.”

In response to the union’s announcement, Cemex said: “On 8 May Cemex UK was advised by Unite that the ballot of HGV cement tanker drivers seeking approval for industrial action in delivery of bulk cement was legal and valid, and that members voted for industrial action.

“Unite has today (9 May) informed Cemex UK that it intends to call upon its members to take part in a continuous work to rule starting 00:01hrs 22nd May 2017. Unite also intends to call upon its members to take part in discontinuous strike action consisting of a 24 hour stoppage commencing at 00:01hrs on 26th May 2017.

“Cemex UK has robust contingency plans in place to manage any industrial action, and we will ensure a continued supply of bulk cement to all of our customers. Supply of all other Cemex UK products is not affected by this ballot.

“The offer made to our HGV cement tanker drivers, representing fewer than 2.5% of the Cemex UK workforce, is the same as that already in place for the rest of our 3,000 UK employees and relates to the pay increase awarded for last year (2016). Cemex UK continues to proactively seek positive engagement with all our drivers and Unite.”