Tanker drivers – government demands talks, but excludes Unite

by - 27th March 2012, 10.55 BST

UnionNews has learned that Unite has been excluded from talks between the government and what officials describe as ‘relevant bodies’ ahead of a looming strike by fuel tanker drivers.

It follows repeated calls by government ministers for the union to take part in negotiations, following yesterday’s ballot result which showed almost 70% in favour of strike action across the major fuel haulage companies delivering fuel for household names, including, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso.

Unite national officer, Matt Draper (pictured) said: “The government has been inferring that we need to get around the table and talk to the employers, but we’ve been trying to get them to negotiate around our concerns in the industry for more than a year.

“And now we find they’ve excluded us from whatever talks they are having with the companies.

“When we found out about yesterday’s meetings, we immediately wrote to the government asking for them to explain what is going on.

“We are committed to negotiations to try to resolve this.”

Officials are holding talks with drivers reps and activists over the coming days to decide on a timetable for possible strike action.

They say they are aware of speculation that Unite may nominate strike days over the Easter holiday next month, but they are stressing that no decision has been made yet.

Unite has called on the employers to 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.