Unite tanker drivers ‘urged to reject’ Acas no-strike plan

Reps 'overwhelmingly' voted to reject Acas proposals, which will now go to a ballot of more than 2,000 drivers. Unite has until 21st May to call strike action in the year-long dispute.
by - 27th April 2012, 7.15 GMT

Unite fuel tanker drivers are being urged to reject proposals aimed at preventing a strike which could affect fuel supplies to up to 90% of forecourts across the UK.

Drivers’ reps voted overwhelmingly to recommend rejection of the proposals which will now be put to more than 2,000 tanker drivers across seven oil distribution firms.

(Pictured: Wincanton fuel tankers immobilised during January 2012 strike, N Lincolnshire)

Unite had been seeking agreement from seven major employers over a national minimum floor for pay, as well as binding commitments over the transfer of pensions, safety and training.

The document followed eight days of talks at the conciliation service Acas, between Unite and executives of the fuel haulage companies – and came as Unite announced it was also re-balloting for strike action at one of the firms, Hoyer, after a challenge to last month’s ballot result.

Sources say the minimum standard of pay asked for by the union would be set below what many drivers currently receive.

This leaves some of them asking whether employers want to be able to set below the union’s minimum standard wage for future employees.

The seven firms have agreed to a pay benchmarking exercise by the pay monitoring company, Income Data Services. However, reps say the employers have not yet made any commitment to achieving minimum standards in this area.

Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “The proposals represent progress on some of the key areas such as health and safety. But it is clear that they do not give enough guarantees that the instability and insecurity gripping the industry will come to an end.

“It is in everyone’s interest that we end the contract merry go round and the erosion of standards in a vital industry.

“Delegates at the oil trade conference felt the proposals did not meet members’ expectations and are recommending that members reject them in the consultative ballot.”

Drivers at Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners and Suckling will take part in the ballot, which is expected to close on Friday 11 May.

Unite has until 21st May to call strike action under last month’s ballot, in which more than 60% of drivers across the seven companies voted in favour of action.