Do you think the Unite members should strike?
As petrol prices continue to soar, now reaching £1.50 a litre for unleaded in some parts of the country, talks of strike action by the union Unite has caused panic buying across the country in the past few days. Talks between Unite and seven fuel companies are set to start next week and strikes over Easter have now been ruled out by the union.
This news should ease a lot of the pressure at the pumps and allow motorists to enjoy their Easter holidays without worrying they’ll end up stranded.
Drivers are responsible for 44 tonne road tanker which each holds up to 40,000 litres of petrol, they are among one of the most dangerous professions, with other dangerous jobs including fishermen, bomb disposal officers, gas rig workers and construction workers.
Conciliation service, Acas, are meeting with employers on Monday, and they hope to start talks with the union soon after. There are over 2000 Unite members who deliver fuel to over 8,000 forecourts. Unite want to negotiate a solution, but if talks breakdown and strikes do go ahead, then the whole oil supply chain may be affected, and oil rigs could even be forced to stop drilling. Unite members are calling for minimum working conditions and health and safety standards.
So what did these fuel companies have to say about the talks?
Wincanton told us they wanted to do all they could to avoid strike action and potential disruption to both forecourts and the general public. They also claimed there was no “beat the clock” culture among their employees as insinuated by Unite, and all of their ‘performance indicators on contracts are all around health and safety, rather than delivery times’ (Wincanton).
The fuel companies backed by the Road Haulage Association also disagreed with the allegations that there were major problems with the health and safety precautions at fuel companies. The RHA suggests the safety precautions in the UK are above and beyond industry expectations and BP told us the safe supply of fuel to forecourts will always be a ‘top priority’.
All of the fuel companies we spoke to wanted to reiterate that 7 days notice would have to be given IF industrial action was announced. They informed us they would take discussions seriously but they also wouldn’t bow down when threatened with industrial action. If the strikes do take place the fuel companies support the government’s decision to bring in the army.
Have you been affected by the recent panic buying? Do you think this is the last thing the UK needs right now or are fuel tank drivers right to want to take strike action if safety standards are really at risk? Have your say below…