Tanker drivers – first stage of ACAS talks underway

by - 2nd April 2012, 10.49 BST

The first stage of talks aimed at resolving the fuel tanker drivers dispute is opening, with employers holding meetings this morning with the conciliation service ACAS.

UnionNews understands a total of seven employers and contractors are involved in what ACAS describes as ‘exploratory’ talks.

Today’s meetings follow earlier talks with Unite officials, laying out their concerns and demands in the dispute.

Speaking on ITV’s Daybreak, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “We want a negotiated settlement. That won’t happen without all parties coming together.

“This industry used to be one run by the oil companies alone.

“Over the years it’s been contracted out to other companies and the conditions and the terms were kept pretty solidly at the beginning. But over the years they have become eroded and eroded.

“We want to put a floor in, under which no one can fall.

“When the contract negotiations take place, we want the oil companies, the retailers, and the distribution companies to say no one will fall below this standard.”

Her comments come as petrol retailers have against criticised the government for triggering a ‘frenzy of withdrawal’ by motorists in last week’s wave of panic buying.

Brian Maddison from the Retail Motor Industry (Petrol) said between 30 and 50% of garages are still out of stock of one or more lines of petrol or diesel, following a spike in sales of 81% and 43% respectively last week.

In a letter last week to the energy secretary Ed Davey, Unite’s Diana Holland repeated the union’s call for government assistance to bring together the oil companies, major retailers and employers in ‘meaningful negotiations’ around concerns over safety and other standards.

ACAS officials say they are aware that Wednesday has been suggested in the media as a starting date for talks involving the union and the employers, but they cannot confirm that at this stage.