Unite rules out Easter fuel tanker drivers' strikes

Union says it wants to focus on peace talks to resolve the ongoing dispute.

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The Independent Online

Unite, the union that represents 2,000 fuel tanker drivers, has today ruled out taking strike action over Easter.

The union said it wanted to focus on peace talks to resolve the ongoing dispute.

The decision not to take action comes after a day of high-confusion in Westminster and panic buying across the UK.

It was also reported today that a woman in York had been badly injured transferring petrol between containers in her kitchen.

The Petrol Retailers Association said that the sale of petrol had spiked yesterday to 170% higher than usual.  Sales of diesel were also up by nearly 80%

The union said today that any action they take would be in an attempt to halt the ‘race to the bottom’ in the fuel oil distribution industry.

They also said they had been trying for a year to get agreement on minimum standards in the industry.

Assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through Acas. We do still retain the right to call strike action for after the Easter, should those talks break down.

”It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry. There have been minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry since 2000 covering health and safety, training, and terms and conditions.

“This is not a political dispute. It is an industrial dispute and the Government's recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement. They must set aside their political objectives and work with us, the employers, retailers and oil companies to achieve an outcome that is good for the industry and the country.”

Acas warned yesterday that there would be hope of a deal in the next 75 hourse.

Yesterday panic buying across the country caused long queues on forecourts which in turn led to some police forces asking petrol stations to close because of congestion.

The government in general and cabinet minister, Francis Maude in particular,  have been heavily criticised for their handling of the crisis.

Maude had suggested drivers should store fuel in jerry cans in their garages, a remark that was withdrawn as a mistake.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on the prime minister to apologise for "presiding over a shambles on petrol".