Ainscough Group, now the UK’s largest mobile crane hire company, has awarded its mobile crane operators a 15% increase.

The company said that it has restructured pay scales in an effort to reduce the drivers dependency on excessive overtime and to bring all employees into line with the new arrivals joining Ainscough as part of the acquisition of Initial GWS.

Chairman Martin Ainscough said he hoped the reduction in long hours that operators had to work would lead to “a safer industry”.

Included in the pay award is a restriction on the amount of hours that can be worked in any one-day, in compliance with the European Union’s Working Time Directive.

Martin Ainscough, the Chairman of the Ainscough Group praised the officials from the AEEU union and the operators depot representatives for reaching a deal with the Ainscough management at short notice to enable the pay structure of both companies to be harmonised and thus avoiding friction between the Ainscough and former GWS operators.

Martin Ainscough also commented: “Our number one priority is the safety of our employees, customers and the general public, and I firmly believe that the potential for a major disaster exists where crane drivers are suffering fatigue. Here at Ainscough we have had a 16 hour maximum working day for more than two years and this is now part of the new pay award and covers all the former GWS crane drivers as well.

“We have a management mechanism to cover for emergencies and special situations but this is closely monitored to ensure that all Managers understand their responsibility to make sure that excessive daily hours are not being worked. I still hear stories of crane drivers who have worked in excess of twenty-four hours without a sufficient break and this is surely a disaster waiting to happen. This new pay award will increase our cost of doing business and those costs will ultimately have to be passed onto our customers, but surely the safety issues must outweigh any relatively small cost implications”.

AEEU national officer Geoff Whitlow, who brokered the deal, said: “The pay agreement is another step towards higher basic rates and away from excessive reliance on overtime. We hope to produce a package for crane drivers which can retain existing skills and recruit new drivers. Last year we introduced a pension scheme, this year a major increase in basic rates. The new agreement is an example of partnership working championed by both Ainscough and the AEEU.”