Unite is to hold its biggest ever ballot of construction workers, as the row over engineers’ pay escalates.
The trade union will next week ask 3,000 members working under the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) whether they want to take strike action in their dispute over next year’s wages.
The NAECI sets out conditions of employment for workers paid by the hour on a range of projects across the UK. It is run by the National Joint Council, which includes the Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) and other bodies.
Workers overwhelmingly rejected an offer worth an average 6 per cent annual rise across 2024 and 2025. They do not believe that this compensates them enough for sub-inflation pay rises over recent years.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is completely unacceptable when the industries involved are awash with profits. It does nothing to reverse the shrinking value of these workers’ wages over successive years or that higher pay elsewhere is causing workforce shortages.
“It also ties these workers into gambling on the economy and inflation in 2024 and 2025 when their finances have already been battered by increasingly unpredictable market forces. Unite stands rock solid with our NAECI members – the employers must come back with an acceptable offer.”
The ballots for strike action open on 13 September and close in mid-October, with strike action scheduled to start later next month.
Unite said its NAECI members were working on new-build infrastructure projects in Runcorn and Teesside, as well as carrying out essential repair and maintenance jobs at oil refineries, power stations and pharmaceutical and petro-chemical plants.
Strike action would cause “significant disruption” at all sites involved, the union insisted.
The ECIA has been contacted for comment.