Wincanton fuel strike back on “over two little words”

by - 3rd February 2012, 7.05 BST

More than 120 fuel tanker drivers have resumed a second round of 7-day strike action after talks failed to resolve the dispute over a threat to cut their incomes by up to 20%.

Unite had suspended industrial action on Thursday following a request from the employers, Wincanton, for ‘talks about talks’.

However, negotiators said the company had used the meeting simply to restate an earlier position and refused to make a “long term” guarantee that the drivers’ incomes would be protected.

Strikers will be suspicious that Wincanton and the fuel giant ConocoPhillips may have attempted to use the break in industrial action to re-stock some of the 380 petrol stations supplied by the drivers. However, Unite national officer Matt Draper, who attended yesterday’s talk, told UnionNews members are determined to see the action through.

“They know they are in this for the long haul. We went to the talks in good faith because the employer said they would offer us a form of words which might allow us to make some progress in detailed negotiations to resolve the dispute. We had been seeking a 3-year guarantee that the drivers’ incomes would not be undermined in any transfer of contracts by Wincanton.  They refused.

“We asked them to include a ‘long term’ guarantee which would be open to further negotiation, but they even refused to do that. So we’re back on strike until they come to their senses.”

The union says the Texas-based oil giant, ConocoPhillips which reported a surge in fourth quarter profits to reach $3.4 billion, holds the key to resolving the dispute and should pay Wincanton a fair rate for the contract.

Wincanton paid more than £17 million pounds in dividends to its shareholders last year.

* You can post a message of solidarity with the strikers on our Solidarity page here

Watch our film report on the first wave of strike action here: