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Crane drivers 'can't wait for pay review'

UNION officials met crane hire bosses on Monday in an attempt to head off industrial action by tower crane drivers which could hit major sites across the UK.

Shop stewards from engineering and electrical union AEEU met in London with plant hirer Hewden Stuart, one of the central firms in a dispute brewing over pay and bonuses.

But drivers were still expected to walk off site at 4 pm yesterday (Wednesday) to attend a meeting in London to air their grievances.

A union source said employers had refused to review pay until October and warned: 'We can't wait until then. This is crunch time. The basic rate is only £6 an hour. This is nowhere near enough and we are looking for substantially more.'

He also said drivers wanted to see basic pay increased so they were not dependent on bonuses. 'This issue needs to be sorted out once and for all. Some drivers get bonuses, some don't,' he said.

Hewden Stuart declined to comment, but a source with a leading crane hire firm said drivers were trying to squeeze employers while there was a skills shortage.

Another said: 'Drivers regularly clock up £1,000 a week with additional allowances and overtime.'