25 Apr 2012

Deadline set to avoid fuel tanker strike

The Unite union is given until 21 May to decide whether to accept a final set of proposals drawn up in a bid to prevent a strike by fuel tanker drivers.

Fuel tanker (Getty)

The development followed 12 hours of talks between the union and officials from distribution companies involved in the row over a number of issues including terms and conditions, pensions and health and safety.

In the run up to Easter dozens of petrol stations across the UK were running dry as motorists stocked up in anticipation of a strike.

Now there is hope a deal can be agreed to avoid a walkout which could potentially cause chaos at the pumps.

Acas chief conciliator Peter Harwood said last night: “Following a further two days of intensive discussions, a final set of proposals has been produced by the fuel distribution contractors and Unite.

“The industrial action mandate has been extended to 21 May to enable Unite to consult with its Oils Trade Conference and the membership on these proposals.”

Mr Harwood added: “As I said last time, the details of the proposals are confidential until the parties report back to their respective organisations.

“After that the detail may be disclosed by the parties themselves.

“Acas would like to thank the parties for their commitment, hard work and patience during the course of these difficult negotiations and hope that these proposals will lead to a successful outcome.”

Read more: Why the fuss about fuel?

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “It is encouraging that the parties have worked to produce a final set of proposals, and agreed to allow time for these to be put to the union membership.

“The government continues to believe that strike action would be wrong and unnecessary and hopes that disruptive action is close to being averted.”

A meeting of drivers’ representatives is expected to be held in the next few days, probably followed by a ballot of union members.

The union reps overwhelmingly turned down a previous proposed deal, leading to fresh talks this week with officials of six distribution companies.

Neither side would release details of the new proposals.