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UK tanker driver strike could cause fuel shortages

27 March 2012

Members of the Unite union working for five out of seven major fuel distribution firms delivering fuel to forecourts owned by amongst others Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso backed a call for strike action by an average of 69 per cent. According to Unite, drivers working for Turners, Norbert Dentressangle, Wincanton, BP and Hoyer voted in favour of a strike, while those of DHL and Suckling voted against.

The strike could result in widespread fuel shortages over coming weeks
The strike could result in widespread fuel shortages over coming weeks

This majority vote means drivers could come out on strike over the coming few weeks, with widespread fuel shortages a possible consequence.
The union says tanker drivers work in an increasingly fragmented and pressurised industry where corners are being cut on safety and training in a bid to squeeze profits and win contracts. Drivers face growing job insecurity as a result of the contract ‘merry-go-round’ and a ‘beat the clock’ culture has flourished with drivers forced to meet ever shorter delivery deadlines.
Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “This is not about pay - this is about ensuring that high safety and training standards are maintained, so that our communities are safe. It is about a simple measure, the creation of an industry-wide bargaining forum. It is about bringing fairness and stability back to an essential national industry.”
But a Hoyer spokesman said: "We are dismayed at the outcome of the Unite ballot for industrial action involving 650 drivers on our fuels contracts, particularly as only 215 drivers out of the 650 voted for strike action and we therefore believe that this action is being driven by a small disaffected group of employees.
"Hoyer has some of the best health, safety and training standards in the petroleum distribution sector."
He said pay and conditions for Hoyer drivers were among the best in the industry, at an average of £45,000 a year.
"They are well rewarded because they are professionals, highly trained and skilled in the work that they carry out, particularly with regard to health and safety.
"We have been actively engaged in discussions with Unite through the Industry Forum to examine ways in which these high health, safety and training standards can be applied across the industry but Unite walked away from those discussions."
The Government labelled the strikes unacceptable and confirmed that the Army is on standby to deliver fuel to petrol forecourts to stave off shortages.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said that he would take “whatever action” necessary to minimise the impact of any strike.


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