The British Steel site in Scunthorpe faces disruption next week as scaffolders at the plant employed by contractor Brand Energy begin strike action in a dispute over pay.

Pay dispute

The 50 plus scaffolders, who are members of the construction union Unite, are responsible for the maintenance of over 500 scaffolding structures at the Scunthorpe site.

The dispute is over pay and began in 2019. The workers are seeking to be paid in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI). There is a difference of £2.00 an hour between their current pay rates and the established NAECI pay rates.

No engagement

Since 2019, Brand Energy has refused to engage with Unite over the pay dispute, leaving the union with no option but to ballot for strike action. The workforce delivered a resounding 100 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action.

Unite has called a total of six days of strikes over the coming weeks, with the first 48 hour strike beginning on Monday 25 January at 05:30 (see notes to editors for full strike details).

Picket lines

The workers will be maintaining a strictly socially distanced picket line at the site, which is likely to cause disruption to the overall operation at British Steel.

The dispute is made more complex as Brand Energy will lose the scaffolding contract on 15 February when it will transfer to Activo. If the matter is not resolved before the contract is transferred, Unite will begin balloting for fresh industrial action with Activo, once the contract transfers.

Last resort

Unite regional officer John McIntyre said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to take strike action due to the refusal of Brand Energy to even engage with Unite on the pay issue.

 “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.

 “Strike action will inevitably cause considerable disruption across the site but this dispute is solely of Brand Energy’s making and even at this late stage strike action can be avoided, if Brand Energy agree to pay the correct rate.

 “If this matter is not resolved by the time Brand Energy loses the contract then it is only right and fair to inform the new contractor Activo that preparations for renewed industrial action will begin when they inherit the contract.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Strikes dates:

05:30 Monday 25 January until 05:29 Wednesday 27 January

05:30 Monday 1 February until 05:29 Wednesday 3 February

05:30 Monday 8 February until 05:29 Wednesday 10 February

Picket line:

The official Unite picket line will be at: Gate A, Mortal Ash Hill, & Gate C, Brigg Road, Scunthorpe, from 05:30 hours to 08:00 on each of the strike days.

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.