Fuel tanker drivers vote against strikes


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The Independent Online

Fuel tanker drivers who were re-balloted for strikes have voted against walkouts but in favour of other forms of industrial action.

Members of the Unite union at Hoyer voted for a second time after it was discovered that some workers did not receive papers during the last ballot.

Unite said 57.5% of members on a turnout of 79.5% voted for action short of strike in the re-ballot.

In the ballot of more than 500 drivers a "significant minority" of 39.2% also voted for strike action, which Unite said demonstrated continuing unease over the "growing uncertainty and instability" in the industry.

Hoyer, who deliver petrol for Shell and Esso, is one of six companies involved in a dispute over industry minimum standards which recently saw eight days of talks at the conciliation service Acas.

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.

"Members are currently taking part in a consultative ballot over proposals tabled through Acas. We will be announcing the result on Friday along with the next steps of our campaign to bring stability to the industry through the introduction of minimum standards."

There were long queues at garages across the country earlier this year when an initial vote in favour of strikes sparked panic buying.

The Government was criticised for urging motorists to keep their tanks filled up and to store fuel in jerry cans in garages.

Drivers at other companies are voting in a consultative ballot on proposals tabled following the Acas talks, with a recommendation to reject.

Unite said that while progress had been made in the talks on health, safety and training, representatives at last month's special oil trades conference recommended rejection, following employers' "failure" to give sufficient guarantees on maintaining standards, security of employment, pensions and sub-contracting.

The result of the consultative ballot involving tankers drivers working for other firms including Wincanton, DHL, BP, and Norbert Dentressangle, will be announced on Friday, when Unite will disclose the next steps in its campaign.