Unite reaches ‘deal’ on fuel tanker dispute

Unite says it has agreed a document with six fuel haulage employers, which will remain confidential until drivers' reps have considered and voted on whether to accept framework settlement.
by - 13th April 2012, 20.20 BST

The conciliation service Acas has announced a set of proposals have been reached to resolve the fuel tanker drivers protest.

The announcement came on a sixth day of negotiations under the auspices of Acas in London to try to avoid a strike by more than 2,000 drivers who supply around 90% of forecourts across the UK.

Speaking outside Acas headquaters in London, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said:

“Unite was very committed to do all we could to avoid industrial action.

“We’ve had intensive, complicated discussions about a really serious issue and now we’re in a position where we have a document which we’re able to further consider and take back to our trade conference for our delegates and reps to discuss.

“We’ve all agreed that we will keep the process confidential until that point, until the people that matter can make that decision.”

Earlier, a deadline for Unite to name dates for possible industrial action in the tanker drivers dispute has been extended till next Friday to allow ‘finely poised’ talks to continue with fuel haulage employers.

Before the talks began, a week and a half ago, union negotiators made clear they were not seeking a pay increase for drivers, but they wanted to secure a UK-wide minimum salary level.

Industry representatives had dismissed the prospect of a national pay structure, saying it was akin to asking the major supermarket chains to agree on a single minimum wage for their check-out staff.

Unite has been campaigning for more than a year to resist what it calls a ‘race to the bottom’ by fuel companies, hauliers and retailers which have driven down costs and wages and which it says have threatened safety levels in the industry.

The union originally had until Monday (16th April) to nominate dates for industrial action under last month’s ballot, that deadline was extended earlier today (Friday) to allow this evening’s proposals to be finalised and put to Unite representatives in a series of meetings next week.

Said Acas Chief Conciliator Peter Harwood: “The extension to the ballot period was agreed to enable those consultations to take place.”

“Acas is pleased at this development and hope that the matter will soon be settled.”