A deal between Unite and fuel distributors might prevent drivers’ strike
The Unite union will meet next week to discuss a proposed deal intended to end the fuel tanker drivers’ dispute.
Unite is in dispute with the fuel distributors over safety and training standards. Unite members have voted for strikes at five companies. Friday was the last day on which the union could call a strike without having to reballot its 2,000 tanker driver members, but all parties agreed that the deadline could be extended to facilitate the talks. As a consequence, Unite could call a strike without a new ballot if its members reject the offer.
Unite, as a union, represents 2,062 tanker drivers, covering 90% of supplies to forecourts, and is calling for minimum standards of pay, working hours, holiday and redundancy.
Alan Davison, representing the tanker companies, said: “We are now in a position where we have a final set of proposals and hopefully we can resolve this dispute.”
Diana Holland, the assistant general secretary of Unite, outside the headquarters of conciliation service Acas, said that the talks were “intense and complex” and added: “We have done as much as we can and we have a document we now can discuss. But we will keep the process confidential until the people who matter make the decision.”
A spokesman for the Department of Energy said: “The Government welcomes the news that Unite plan to put a deal to their members.”
There were chaotic scenes at garages across the UK earlier this month as people queued for petrol after the Government advised motorists to top up their tanks. However, soon after, the Government faced criticism as its advice of stocking up fuel caused panic among motorists. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, advised drivers to stock up on petrol and fill jerry cans – until the dangers of storing fuel at home were pointed out. In Yorkshire, a woman was badly burned when petrol she was transferring between two containers in her kitchen ignited.
In case of a possible strike, drivers can now forget fears of fuel shortages as army drivers have been purposely trained to deliver fuel to petrol stations.