A BRIGHTON plant operator is preparing to take on the Construction Plant Competence Scheme in a bid to change its policy on renewing plant card driver categories.
Excavator operator David Latimer believes the current renewals policy could lead to a major skills shortage and is calling on fellow operators to join a campaign for an independent review of the card scheme.
Mr Latimer, backed by his union, the T&G, believes the CPCS's decision to cut drivers'plant card categories - or make them take a separate site assessment for each category - could breach trade rules.
He said: 'I have several categories on my card through grandfather rights but now I will lose them all except the one that I am on now, the 360 degree excavator.
'I have spent 40 years driving all manner of plant but my card will only record the one I started off with.
'This will lead to a massive de-skilling of operators and bring about the very situation the CITB was set up to stop - a skills shortage.Everyone will be restricted to the machine they spend most time on.'
The CPCS says making operators prove 300 hours' operation for each category, or take an on-site test, was necessary to reduce the amount of categories operators had amassed under grandfather rights.
Mr Latimer maintained that this serves only to penalise the operator. He said: 'We are being made to pay for an assessment every time we want to keep a category. I don't see why I should pay for something I have already done.
Soon we could be paying as much as £1,500, like HGV drivers have to.'
He is now calling on fellow operators with similar views to contact T&G plant organiser Alan Brkljac.
He said: 'More negotiations must be held by operators so as not to allow this crazy scheme to rob us of our rights.
'None of the other parts of the industry have to go through the rigmarole that we have to.
'Employers may be happy with the way the scheme has been changed but it is leaving the drivers in the lurch.'