Scaffolders warn Rope Access company over British Steel strike breaking

A GIANT INFLATABLE RAT has joined British Steel scaffolders and strike campaigners outside a South Shields company.
Protesters outside Rope Access Trade Solutions in South Shields. Credit: Unite

A GIANT INFLATABLE RAT has joined British Steel scaffolders and strike campaigners outside a South Shields company.

Scaffolders and Unite the union has accused Rope Access Trade Solutions of supplying workers to help British Steel break a strike by scaffolders employed by Actavo (UK) at its site in Scunthorpe.

The protest took place outside Rope Access Trade Solutions South Shields address this morning (Wednesday 8 December).

The union has warned British Steel that engaging with the firm could be in breach of criminal law which prevents workers from being supplied to cover the duties of workers engaged in lawful industrial action.

62 scaffolders have been on continuous strike action for 9 weeks in a long-running dispute with their employer Actavo (UK). They are significantly underpaying their workers.

Unite says this breaks a national agreement that sets fair rates for the job and prevents a race to the bottom for construction workers. But Unite says that the client, British Steel, must also take responsibility for this long-running dispute.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “We believe Rope Access Trade Solutions have been engaged by British Steel specifically to carry out works which would normally be done by our members who are on lawful strike. This may well be in breach of criminal law.  We also have evidence that other workers are being pressured into working for British Steel’s scaffolding contractor Actavo.

 “The workers on strike have their union’s steadfast support. Any attempt to break this strike will be fiercely resisted. My priority is to defend Unite members’ jobs, pay and conditions.

“Unite will not allow employers to use strike breakers to help erode workers’ pay. We will fight tooth and nail to stop the race to the bottom.”

Striking scaffolders at British Steel
Striking scaffolders at British Steel. Credit: Twitter/United Scaffs

The dispute, which began in 2019, is a result of the scaffolders not being paid in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI).

The rates for the workforce are currently between 10-15 per cent (depending on specific roles) below these rates.

The workers maintain over 500 scaffolding structures at the British Steel site.