News story

Tanker fuel drivers vote for strike action

Responding to the news that strike action has been averted, Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary said: “This is the right result…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Responding to the news that strike action has been averted, Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary said:

“This is the right result for those involved in the dispute and for the economy.

“A strike would have been disruptive to the hardworking lives of millions of motorists around the country, and put unnecessary pressures on our essential and emergency services.

“The Government was prepared however and I want to pay tribute to the military who have been training over the last few weeks to step in if strike action had gone ahead.

“Around 1,400 military drivers have been trained and we had expected to be able to maintain the majority of fuel deliveries to forecourts. I am determined that the expertise we have gained through this will not be lost and will be a valuable addition to our future resilience planning.”

Update: 18 April 2012

Response to the announcement from Unite that tanker drivers’ representatives have rejected proposals negotiated last week:

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:

“We are disappointed that an agreement has yet to be reached. We understand that these are complex issues but urge both parties to work towards a negotiated resolution with the support of Acas.

“The Government continues to believe that any strike action would be wrong and unnecessary.”

Press notice 2012/030

26 March 2012

See DECC spokesperson statement of 13 April regarding progress in talks between employers and the Unite union to reach a negotiated settlement.

Tanker fuel drivers who deliver fuel to the UK’s forecourts have just announced their intention to strike over a dispute with their employers over working conditions.

The Unite union, who are representing the 2,000 members involved in the action announced today that 69% voted in favour of a strike.

The Government has robust resilience and contingency plans to deal with the event of a strike and has already started to put these in place in order to minimise any disruption to the general public.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey said:

“The Unite ballot result is disappointing. The Government is strongly of the view that strike action is wrong and unnecessary. The union should be getting round the negotiating table, not planning to disrupt the lives of millions of people across Britain.

“This is an industrial dispute and we strongly urge Unite to resolve it by getting back to the negotiating table, not by threatening the nation with economic and social disruption.

“Our economy is just getting back on its feet and any action that makes that harder is totally unjustified.

“With the London 2012 Olympics approaching, it is unacceptable and selfish to behave in this manner and jeopardise our international reputation.

“Unite has committed to ensuring that essential services are not disrupted. We trust it will live up to this commitment and not put anyone in harm’s way.

“The Government stands ready to take whatever action we can to minimise the impact of any strike. If we have to, we will use emergency powers to make sure supplies for emergency services are prioritised and we will work to ensure trained military personnel are available to drive oil tankers. The Police will be on hand to ensure that strike action does not intimidate or prevent drivers that wish to work from doing so.

“While their main concerns are pay and conditions, which are matters for their employers, they have also raised health and safety. We take health and safety very seriously and will be looking carefully at what Unite is saying. Ensuring people are safe at work is a priority for us and we are committed to resolving any issues around this.

“But we are clear - first and foremost - the parties must get back around the table. There is no justification for this. It’s the wrong action at the wrong time.”

Notes for Editors

  • Around 2,000 members of Unite at seven companies have been voting on whether to launch the first national campaign of action for over a decade.
  • Unite drivers supply fuel to 90% of the UK’s forecourts.
  • Workers in seven major distribution companies were balloted for industrial action - Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, J.W Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle and Turners.
  • There are 8,706 forecourts across the UK
  • Tanker drivers are paid on average £45,000 a year - double that of a regular haulage driver.
  • Tanker drivers work 12 hour shifts, driving a 44 tonne vehicle, holding between 36,000 and 40,000 litres of petroleum product.
Published 11 May 2012