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Kier looks to drop crane drivers

Kier Plant - the UK-based rental division of Kier Construction - has launched a 30 day consultation period with its remaining crane operators as part of a proposal to drop all directly employed operators.

The company’s 38 tower and crawler crane operators were informed of the proposal in a meeting at the end of July. The decision been driven by the unprecedented depression in the construction business resulting in extreme competition on rates.

In a letter to employees it says that it will no longer directly employ crane operators, sourcing them instead on an ad-hoc basis via employment agencies.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation process with each employee and their representatives, all operators will be made redundant. The company has also launched a formal 30 day consultation process with the union UCATT and says that it will consider any alternatives that may come out of it.

Vertikal Comment

Kier Plant is regarded as a first class organisation with a strong reputation for doing things right and an excellent safety record. At one time it had around 80 crane operators, but as the recession bit and tower cranes came down and sat in the yard that number has gradually dwindled.

The company rents its cranes out to third parties as well as supplying the Kier Construction businesses. Its operators are generally very well trained, with years of experience. The construction operations have been bombarded with discounted rates from independent crane rental companies significantly undercutting the internal rates offered by Kier Plant, which probably pays its operators more and at least looks to cover its costs.

The practice of having crane operators stay with their own crane is without question the best in terms of safety and maintenance, not to mention the operational efficiency that comes from an operator who really knows his crane. It is a sad trend when the construction industry forces a move away from this practice in order to save a few pounds on the rental rates it pays.