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Fuel Tanker Driver Strike Delayed

Shell Fuel Tanker Driving Down RoadA new set of proposals have been drawn up by union leaders and fuel distribution company representatives, after 12 hours of negotiations on Tuesday, with the aim of ending an ongoing dispute over pay, working conditions, safety standards and pensions for fuel tanker drivers. Because of this, Unite has been given until May 21 to decide with its members if they will accept the deal.

This follows Unite, which represents some 2,000 fuel tanker drivers, being given a deadline to call a strike until Tuesday at 5pm. Due to the new proposals, however, this has been extended yet again. It also comes after union members rejected a proposed deal last week. About 60 Unite officials turned the agreement down after six days of negotiations, and this is what led to the fresh talks on Tuesday. However, they had made progress on many issues, and this deal is expected to have seen even more progress.

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said last week that it’s clear their members need more assurances and guarantees from fuel distributors. They are still dedicated to reaching a negotiated deal that brings security and stability to an important industry. She also expressed optimism that a resolution would be reached and called on the public not to panic. At the time, Acas chief conciliator Peter Harwood said they were naturally disappointed about the deal being rejected after such intense talks over the previous two weeks. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said they were also disappointed but understood the issues are complex.

This week, however, Harwood said that he hopes the new proposals will lead to a favourable outcome. After another two days of intense talks, a final set of terms has been produced by the fuel distributors’ and Unite’s representatives. The strike mandate has, in turn, been extended to May 21 to allow the union to consult with its membership and Oils Trade Conference about the proposals. He wouldn’t reveal the details, saying they are confidential until the parties report back to their organisations, he added. Union representatives are due to meet in the next few days to talk about the new proposals before balloting their members.

The threat of possible industrial action by fuel tanker drivers during Easter weekend led to panic buying across the UK in the several days before the holiday. However, this was helped by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who suggested in an interview that it would be a sensible precaution for motorists to fill up a jerry can with petrol and then store it in their garages. His suggestion was attacked for being dangerous and encouraging drivers to panic buy. As negotiations continued, though, the strike was averted over Easter.

Despite the averted strike, the government was still planning contingency plans. A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the government still believed that any strike would be unnecessary and wrong. They would continue working on the contingency plans to increase the nation’s resilience in case of industrial action.

 

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