Fuel strike: Ministers stick to walkout plans

 

Nick Dennis, from Unite, says the government "has not been helpful" in the ongoing dispute

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The government says it is right to continue with contingency plans for a fuel strike, despite a deal being near.

The Unite union will meet next week to discuss the deal, which was tabled on Friday following six days of talks with officials from six distribution firms.

After the breakthrough at Acas talks, a government spokesman said contingency plans would continue.

But the union's Nick Dennis said that this was not helpful in trying to reach a negotiated settlement.

He added: "The government is not being helpful in the way they've handled this situation."

After the Friday talks led to a possible deal, a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: "We welcome the news that Unite plan to put a deal to their members.

"As we've said all along, we're taking sensible measures to plan for a possible strike and will continue to do so until a final agreement is reached."

Unite represents 2,062 tanker drivers, covering 90% of supplies to forecourts, and is calling for minimum standards of pay, hours, holiday and redundancy.

The dispute concerns safety, pay and working conditions but details of the proposed deal have not been disclosed.

Mr Dennis said the talks had been "positive and constructive" and his members would deliver a verdict on the deal by the end of the week.

Signs at petrol station Panic buying led to fuel shortages

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott described it as a "big step forward" but added that the big sticking point appeared to be pay.

He said it was unlikely the talks among union delegates would begin on Monday, because no venue had yet been chosen to host the discussions.

About 60 union representatives from across the country will discuss the deal and have until Friday to accept the proposals or announce a strike.

The threat of a strike had resulted in panic buying at petrol stations, after the government advised motorists to top up their tanks.

Labour's deputy leader and shadow culture secretary, Harriet Harman, welcomed the prospect of a settlement but blamed ministers for the fuel panic.

"Nobody wants to see a dispute. But I think if, as we hope, the dispute will be settled, everybody will say all the inconvenience and worry that people were put through and the prices going up at the pumps during the fuel panic - that was all caused by the government.

"I think really they've got to recognise that people are finding things difficult at the moment and actually it's not the job of the government to make things worse."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 109.

    The government are desperate for this strike to happen aren't they; I'm sure that with a little imagination they could get their poodles in the media to come up with some other union bashing story. Oh wait, the BBC are doing a programme about the 70s next week; plenty of historical union bashing will have to do then.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 108.

    98 Richard Gledhill
    'poor advice from the government and media sensationalism caused panic buying'.

    The government gave us good advice, the panic buying was inevitable.

    The government is also right to keep us alert to the prospect of strike action and to make sensible contingency plans. You would have to be nuts to see it any other way.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 107.

    Fuel is so vital to our economy, the Government should have contingency plans in place for keeping the pumps flowing all the time, not when a disruption to the supply is threatened!

  • Comment number 106.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 105.

    73.YouknowIamright
    #The government did have a contigency plan, it was called dialogue and negotiation#

    I laugh every time any Union or group play that card. We only want dialogue/negotiations, what they really mean is We get what We want or as much of it as we can threaten out of others. Well try not demanding anything in the first place! Wanting to take from others.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 104.

    So Cameron is planning to train drivers he put on the dole to drive tankers of the type the MOD does not have to deliver Fuel they dont have Certificates to carry That would seem to be as clever as when several Departments were found to be using illegal Immigrants to guard them while warning the rest of us of the consequences of doing so it

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 103.

    Itst laughable some below whine about oppressive govt when the likes of China,Syria,Nth Korea are at large.Its also offensive to the freedom we have here.What is oppressive is labour organisations crippling vital services that vulnerable need,so to blackmail employers.It wasnt for the govt to be 'helpful',Mr Unite,it wrongly assumed you were mature enough to resolve your differences as adults

  • Comment number 102.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 101.

    What are they hiding? This has been a non-story from the start, designed to cause mass panic & a sharp increase in treasury coffers just before the new fiscal year. What are they doing that they want to keep hidden from us until it's too late to do anything about?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 100.

    90 Come on mate, any bodies hours would strange to a Pongo!!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 99.

    Reading some of the posts here some people think working people should have no rights. If there was anything wrong with this ballot don't they think the rabid daily mail and sun front pages would be calling for court action to stop any action.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 98.

    "The threat of a strike over safety, pay and working conditions resulted in panic buying at petrol stations."

    No it didn't, poor advice from the government and media sensationalism caused panic buying.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 97.

    75.Straight talk

    "...Unite has 90% of tanker drivers. If a corporation had 90% market share there would be legislation..."

    ===

    Perhaps the MMC should look into the mosques then, by that logic. Some of them attract 100% of the local faithful. As for my local library, well, scandalous. What about Mensa too? And to think there's only one Conservative Party you can join...

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 96.

    It would be foolish to remove the plans until the settlement is signed.

  • rate this
    +82

    Comment number 95.

    Couldn't the Government have quietly and sensibly continued with their contingency plans without making a song and dance of it? Anyone with a bit of common sense can see that this isn't over yet, and it needs cool heads and a low Government profile to bring about a solution, not headline-hunting. Did they learn nothing from the dangerous fools they made of themselves a couple of weeks ago?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 94.

    @81 Ronnie M

    Read the article above where it says "the big sticking point appeared to be pay" and you will find yourself to be wrong.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 93.

    It's no surprise to read this. The government are trying to damage the unions, and it's member's reputations
    Just as Thatcher went after Scargill, Cameron is hoping to smash the unions this time, so he needs it to look like the unions are being unreasonable.
    I find this laughable, working people will always support each other against an oppressive government, people understand why unions are vital

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 92.

    To say the government caused a womqn to burn herself is rubbish. She it by stupidity, it was just because it happened at that time the media wanted to stir things up, no surprise there. If it had happened several wks earlier who would have been blamed then, the petrol station for selling it. There are warnings everywhere about keeping fuel away from naked flames,she has no one to blame but herself

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 91.

    It must be good to think you can hold the whole country to ransom, but you can't and we would soon be on here complaining if the government had not covered for all eventualities. Just because "dialog" is to start, in no way means that things will be resolved.

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 90.

    Ive just finished my Whirlwind training in West Mid to deliver if the Drivers do go on strike, i was supposed to be on leave which i wasnt happy about, but one thing is for sure, this is one tough job, we have been working alongside the drivers & the hours they do are berserk, were all beat & we aint even been starting as early as them. I gotta take my hat of to them, btw they dont want xtra £'s

 

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