Talks resume to avert strike by tanker drivers

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The Independent Online

Talks aimed at averting a strike by fuel tanker drivers will resume today after "constructive" discussions were held before Easter.

Leaders of the Unite union spent two days last week meeting officials from six distribution firms to try to resolve a dispute over terms and conditions and health and safety.

Peter Harwood, chief conciliator for Acas, said as the talks were adjourned: "The discussions have been constructive, with the parties positively engaged and committed to the process.

"We are pleased that they have agreed to continue their discussions with Acas.

"Of course, everyone will be respecting the confidentiality of the process. Therefore, no further comment will be made by any of the parties involved."

The dispute has been brewing for more than a year but flared up last month when Unite announced that workers in five firms had voted to strike.

The Government advised motorists to top up with fuel, leading to chaotic scenes at garages across the country as people queued for petrol. There was much criticism of the way the Government handled the prospect of a strike and Labour led calls for the resignation of the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude for advising motorists to store jerry cans of fuel in their garages.

The union will have to give seven days' notice of any industrial action.