Latest Public Sector News

02.04.12

Talks to resolve petrol dispute

Talks between the union Unite and fuel tanker companies are expected this week, aimed at resolving the dispute and threatened strike by tanker drivers. This follows criticism of Government for sparking widespread panic-buying of petrol and diesel.

The representatives of fuel tanker companies are holding discussions over an agenda for the talks with conciliation services Acas. Drivers are calling for common standards on safety and training, as well as an industry forum to oversee those issues.

The union has ruled out strikes at Easter and workers cannot walk out with less than seven days’ notice.

Speaking to ITV's Daybreak, Unite’s assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “Everybody involved on behalf of Unite, the trade union members, and the oil tanker drivers, is saying 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.”

Petrol sales rose by almost 172% on Thursday and diesel increased by 77%, following advice from Prime Minister David Cameron for drivers to fill up their tanks and be prepared in case of a strike.

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said the proposed tanker drivers’ strike meant that “a bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take”.

On Sunday William Hague, the foreign secretary and Conservative deputy leader, defended the Government’s role during the petrol scare. He said on the BBC’s Andrew

Marr Show: “I think my colleagues have done absolutely the right thing to urge people to take sensible precautions and I think they will be vindicated by events over the coming days and weeks.”

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