We are being under sold
I am a highly experienced freelance heavy crane operator, and for the past five months have been looking for work outside of the U.K. as a precautionary measure should UK work become scarce due a Brexit induced slow down.
During this time I have made a startling discovery, it seems that we are now among the lowest paid heavy crane operators in Europe. Yep we are now viewed by many crane companies as being in the same camp as Romanian or Bulgarian workers, and it’s got nothing to do with Brexit.
So first of all let’s get the whole Brexit mess out the way, yes Brexit is causing us some grief as I have been turned down for two contracts so far that are due to start in Europe, where they actually told me on the phone “sorry but due to the uncertainty with Brexit, we can’t take you until it’s all cleared up!” it’s not the fact we are leaving so much, it’s the mess our politicians have made by not leaving.
Getting back to the rates debate, over the past few months I have been talking to many large European crane companies and at the same time chatting to some of the guys that work for them, mostly to get an idea what they are like to work for, and to find out what sort of money their operators are taking home each week. And what has shocked me the most is the difference between what these lads are getting and what those same companies are offering UK operators for doing the same work. In one case, a French Guy I know is getting €50 a hour, plus all the perks like hotel and flights all paid for etc… The same company offered three UK workers, including myself, €35 a hour, now that’s a massive difference by any standards. Now don’t for one minute think that I am being ungrateful for this offer as even at €35 a hour is still great compared to the awful rates for operators in the U.K.
€35 an hour is still around £25 to £26 a hour when converted and you are not spending money on digs or travel unlike working for a British crane company. So my conclusion is that The U.K. will start to see a fall in skilled crane operators over the next few years, especially within the heavy crane industry. Why would you want to work for £15 a hour and have to pay out for digs, food and travel when you could work for a European company and get £25 to 26 a hour plus everything paid for you?
But the point is that even €35 a hour is still very cheap compared to what the continental Europeans are paid, so don’t under sale your skills or trade.
About the Author: The Crane Man is a highly skilled crane operator with many years experience on a range of large mobile telescopic cranes and large lattice crawlers. Given his freelance status, and perhaps his forthright views, he believes that it might be sensible to withhold his identity, in order to protect his earnings. He is our first person to provide a guest editorial, and is likely to become a regular.