Hundreds of tanker drivers have rebuffed a threat of legal action against an earlier strike ballot by voting once again to support industrial action in the bitter dispute with seven haulage companies over safety and minimum pay rates.
Oil tanker drivers working for distribution firm Hoyer – which delivers fuel to Shell forecourts – have backed industrial action short of a strike, as Unite says concerns continue over deteriorating standards in the distribution sector.
57.5% of members on a turnout of 79.5% voted for action short of strike in the re-ballot which was called following an error in the original vote.
Hoyer is one of six companies involved in an ongoing dispute over industry minimum standards which recently saw eight days of talks with the union through Acas.
Drivers at another firm, DHL, have also voted for industrial action, but do not support an all-out strike.
Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “The vote in favour of action short of a strike demonstrates that deep concerns still remain in an increasingly insecure and unstable industry.
“Tanker drivers face a daily race to the bottom where contracts are chopped and changed. It is in everyone’s interest to bring order to the chaos gripping a vital industry through the introduction of industry wide minimum standards.”
The result of a two-week consultative ballot involving tankers drivers working for Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners and Suckling is due to be announced on Friday (11 May).
Unite officials have until then to ‘activate’ the March strike ballot which originally triggered a spate of government-led panic buying at forecourts across the UK.
The union is likely to call ‘token’ action in order to maintain its strike mandate, but officials are also likely to call for a new round of talks to try to prevent a national fuel strike and secure a settlement on key unresolved issues, such as a minimum pay floor for drivers in all of the major haulage firms and the transfer of pension rights.