Fuel tanker drivers have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in a ballot organised by the Unite union. The union balloted over 2000 tanker drivers in seven different companies, workers at five voted to take strike action over terms and conditions and safety standards. The strike action, if it takes place, will be the first since the fuel blockades of 2000.
A statement from Unite said: “Tanker drivers work in an increasingly fragmented and pressurised industry, where corners are being cut on safety and training in a bid to squeeze profits and win contracts.”
The union said that an average of almost 70% of workers in the five companies voted in favour of strikes, workers at a sixth voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike. The companies deliver fuel to Shell and Esso petrol stations and to supermarkets.
A spokesperson for the union has urged the government and the companies to negotiate with Unite in order to avoid strikes.
Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey said: “The Unite ballot result is disappointing. The government is strongly of the view that strike action is wrong and unnecessary. The union should be getting round the negotiating table, not planning to disrupt the lives of millions of people across Britain. With the London 2012 Olympics approaching, it is unacceptable and selfish to behave in this manner and jeopardise our international reputation.”
The spokesperson for the UK government said that it had “robust resilience and contingency plans” in place to minimise any disruption a strike might cause to the public. The government has plans to use members of the armed forces to make fuel deliveries if the supply to fuel pumps is threatened.