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Tanker drivers delivering fuel to petrol pumps across the UK have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over safety and growing instability in the fuel industry

Members of Unite working for five major fuel distribution firms delivering fuel for household names, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso backed a call for strike action by an average of 69 per cent. Turnouts across the five companies averaged 77.7 per cent.

Unite urged the employers to meet their responsibilities and talk meaningfully about establishing reasonable minimum standards that secure the stability of this vital national industry. Attempts by the union to progress a forum have been thwarted by employers’ unrelenting attacks on drivers’ terms and conditions.

The results for the seven companies involved in the ballot are:

  •     Turners 94.4 per cent in favour on a turnout of 81.8 per cent.
  •     Norbert Dentressangle 74.8 per cent in favour on a turnout of 71.3 per cent.
  •     Wincanton 68.4 per cent in favour on a turnout of 71.9 per cent.
  •     BP 60.2 per cent in favour on a turnout of 85.8 per cent.
  •     Hoyer 59.7 per cent in favour on a turnout of 79.7 per cent.

In DHL drivers narrowly voted against strike action (44.6 per cent), but voted in favour of action short of a strike (53 per cent). Members in Suckling voted against strike action (85 per cent) and action short of strike (76 per cent).

Over 61.1 per cent of those voting across the seven companies voted for strike action.

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.

Final salary pension schemes have been swapped for inferior money purchase schemes, and some workers are now on their sixth pension in as many years, with 10 to 15 years left to go in the industry.

Commenting Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “These votes send a clear message throughout the industry and should prompt all the major companies to get around the table to establish minimum standards.

“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.”
“No longer can it be acceptable that oil giants rake in profits, while shirking their responsibility for the stable supply of a national commodity. The measures we are proposing are reasonable, responsible and sensible. We urge them to act and listen.”

Written by Scott Buckler
Monday, 26 March 2012 15:03

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