Morale among UK’s tanker drivers is at an all time low, according to Unite the union, which has warned leading operators in the sector to improve conditions or face possible strike action.
It wrote to companies including Esso and Texaco, as well as supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s to highlight the fact that unstable employment, redundancies arising from reorganisation of operations and attacks on earnings are forcing the workforce towards conflict.
Unite has called an autumn summit to address the problem and to consider the action required to safeguard stability within the sector.
It is urging employers to rethink employment strategies and is inviting them to enter into discussions with the union in order to prevent industrial action later in the year.
Ron Webb, Unite’s national officer for logistics, said: “We have consistently warned the oil employers that their strategy of attacking wages and squeezing more and more out of their drivers but giving them less and less in return will backfire.
“Unfortunately, they have not listened so now we are at a very dangerous moment for this sector. In my 15 years as a negotiator for this sector I have never witnessed such low morale among the drivers. This is a workforce which is highly specialist and delivers a product this country’s smooth functioning depends upon.
“They are also working for some of the most profitable companies in the land. All they are asking for in return is a wage which reflects their hard work and professionalism.”
Unite claims the greater use of alternative contractors who are willing to undercut other employers is behind the driving down of wages and hitting conditions of employment.
Unite has written to the following employers within the sector: Asda Stores Ltd; BP Oils Ltd; Conocophillips Petroleum Ltd; Esso Petroleum Company Ltd; GB Oils; Greenergy Fuels Ltd; J Sainsbury’s PLC; Kuwait Petroleum (UK Holdings) Ltd; Murco Petroleum Ltd; PACE Petroleum Ltd; Petroplus Refining & Marketing Ltd; Shell Tankers (UK) Ltd; Tesco Distribution Ltd; WM Morrisons Supermarkets PLC; Total UK Ltd; Texaco.