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Crane operators look to drop CPCS cards

PLANT Crane association calls on contractors to back NVQ as alternative to skills card

CRANE operators are looking to sidestep the CPCS operators card out of disillusionment with the cost and bureaucracy of the scheme.

The United Crane Operators Association, which represents a cross-section of drivers across the country, is calling on crane hirers and contractors to support the NVQ in Specialist Plant and Machinery Operations as an alternative.

Already one of the largest employers of tower crane drivers, HTC, is putting its drivers through the NVQ in the belief that it provides a nationally recognised qualification that covers all the elements of plant operation, but does not require costly renewal once it has been achieved.

UCOA secretary John Batey said many operators had issues with the CPCS but did not feel their concerns were being heard.

'We have had a driver lose his job because he failed the CPCS touchscreen test. It turned out he was dyslexic and didn't want to mention it, ' said Mr Batey.

'We feel the whole system has got out of control. As it stands the CPCS can do what it likes, it can bring in new charges whenever it wants. I could understand it if the CPCS was a mandatory card, but it is only a voluntary scheme.' Those in the crane industry believe they particularly bear the brunt of CPCS renewal or assessment charges because they tend to hold several categories together, such as operator and slinger/signaller.

Mr Batey said: 'We believe NVQ is the way forward, because it will last you for life.

At the moment operators are charged each time they want to renew a category. With an HGV it lasts until you are 65.' The UCOA and crane firms are now speaking to contractors and hire companies to convince them to use the NVQ as a valid alternative to the CPCS cards.

Although some operators have called for more direct action, such as stopping work, to protest, Mr Batey said the UCOA was looking to work positively.

'We have tried to bring our concerns to the CPCS management, but we haven't been taken seriously. This may make them sit up and listen.'