Unite rules out Easter tanker strikes to focus on talks

Unite today (Friday, 30 March) ruled out Easter strike action by tanker drivers in a bid to focus on talks. The announcement came as the union confirmed it was ready to start substantive talks through ACAS as soon as possible.

For over a year Unite has been seeking to establish minimum standards in the fuel oil distribution industry and halt a race to bottom. The industry has become increasingly fragmented and unstable. As contracts are chopped and changed, standards in training, health and safety and terms and conditions are being eroded.

The union stressed that what it was seeking was not unreasonable and similar to standards in place elsewhere in the oil industry. Minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry have been in place since 2000, covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.

Unite went on to call on the government to assist in bringing employers, retailers and oil companies together to bring stability to the industry and establish minimum standards covering:

Health and safety procedures, processes and practices
Independently accredited training
Portable sector pension
Minimum standards in relation to rates of pay, hours of work and working/holiday/sickness/redundancy arrangements
Equal opportunities
Grievance and disciplinary procedures
Trade union facilities

Commenting, Unite 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 breakdown.

“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.”

ENDS

For further information contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065, or Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869 or Chantal Chegrinec, Unite campaigns officer, on 07774 146 777.

Notes to editors

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.