DOZENS of workers at one of Darlington's biggest employers are to take part in last ditch talks today in an attempt to avoid strike action.

On Monday, the GMB Union has confirmed that up to 90 of its members at Cleveland Bridge are set to take industrial action this week and next week over a failure to agree on pay.

However, the union also revealed last minute talks would be held today in an attempt to avoid industrial action, but members would strike tomorrow and on Monday if no agreement can be reached.

The union claims the firm chose to impose a pay rise of 2.3 per cent on all staff, following a failure to agree which had been lodged since May, and have refused to pay back pay to the anniversary date of April 2018.

However, Cleveland Bridge claims the strike action was only supported by a minority of the workforce, and the union rejected the company’s pay award of 4.7 per cent, comprising of better pay, pension and sickness benefits which they described as “generous”.

Mark Wilson, GMB regional organiser, said: "The company, which is involved in the engineering and construction of steel fabrication services, have agreed to last ditch talks with ACAS on Wednesday 7th November, however strike action on Thursday 8th and Monday 12th November will take place if no agreement can be reached.

“Our members have not taken this decision lightly, but are fed up with the Company's approach to this pay round".

A Cleveland Bridge spokesperson said: "We are focused on investments in equipment, Training and in modernising practices to protect jobs.

"We encourage the Union to work with us to protect jobs in the UK Steel Industry rather than putting them further at risk with this action.

"We believe that the GMB Union is wrong to instigate this industrial action. It is not acting collaboratively and not in the best interest of our employees. A meeting with ACAS takes place this week.”

Cleveland Bridge’s principal activity is the fabrication and erection of steel bridges, high-rise buildings and other steel structures.  The company has more than 150 years’ experience in delivering these structures around the world. 

With the capacity to process 1,000 tonnes of steel per week, the company operates a 22-acre site off Yarm Road in Darlington which features a 27,000 square metre fabrication facility and a paint facility design for the application of high-specification paint systems.