Tanker drivers ballot over whether to keep on trucking

by - 29th February 2012, 7.00 BST

Thousands of tanker drivers who deliver fuel to petrol forecourts are to be balloted for strikes in a row over safety and terms and conditions.

Unite said its members working for seven major fuel distribution firms will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.

The union warned that strikes could hit petrol supplies at supermarkets, garages and airports across the country.

Voting will start next week among 2,000 drivers, who account for 90% of those supplying petrol to UK forecourts.

Unite said there had been “unrelenting attacks” on drivers’ terms and conditions.

It has been trying for some time establish an industry wide forum to discuss issues such as safety and training, arguing that drivers work in an increasingly fragmented, pressurised industry in what it calls a ‘contract merry-go-round and a beat-the-clock culture’.

Matt Draper, Unite national officer (pictured) said: “For over a year we have strived to talk some sense into this industry but they have shown no genuine interest in bringing stability to the supply of this vital national commodity.

“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 industry that is now controlled by faceless global giants.

“This is a clear case of a predatory industry putting its profits and greed before the wider well-being. This workforce is now saying enough is enough.”

Unite said it will serve notice of the ballot for strike action on Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, J.W Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle and Turners.

Watch our video report here on recent strike action at Wincanton over contracts and conditions