THE feared strike by tanker drivers has been narrowly averted after drivers voted to accept new proposals today (Friday) after eight days of talks at ACAS.
The strike threat caused chaos at Easter when hundreds of people rushed to the petrol pumps and causing many of them, including in Louth and Mablethorpe, to run dry.
Members of UNITE the Union, working for the seven major oil distributers, voted by 51 per cent overall on a turnout of 69 per cent to accept the proposals, meaning there will be no strike action.
The proposals include the introduction of an industry-wide accreditation or ‘passport’ covering health and safety training.
But despite the vote, members fear four of the seven firms actually voted to reject the proposals.
Over the coming weeks the union will be working with the seven oil distribution firms, the Department for Energy, Environment and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other interested parties to implement the Acas proposals.
The consultative ballot involved over 2,000 tanker drivers working for Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners and Suckling.
Unite’s assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “This narrow vote in favour lifts the threat of strike action, but leaves the companies with no room for complacency.
“We look forward to the rapid implementation of the Acas proposals which include an industry-wide ‘passport’. The progress made through negotiation is testament to the brave stance members have taken in the face of growing insecurity and attacks on their profession.
“The narrow vote in favour should be a ‘wake-up’ call for an industry riddled with deep seated problems. This is why we are writing to the Energy and Climate Change select committee urging them to investigate the instability in the industry.
“Francis Maude’s calamitous intervention highlighted that this country runs on unstable, short fuel supplies.
“It is not a jerry can in the garage we need, but a review of whether the industry is structured in the national interest. We trust that energy secretary Ed Davey and other ministers will take a more constructive approach in helping us bring stability and security to a nationally vital industry.”
The first meeting to take forward the implementation of the Acas proposals must be held before 1 June.