The government is making contigency plans to deal with a national strike by fuel tanker drivers after members of the Unite union at five out of seven fuel distribution companies voted for action.
The results for the seven companies involved in the ballot by the trade union are:
• Turners 94.4 per cent in favour on a turnout of 81.8 per cent.
• Norbert Dentressangle 74.8 per cent in favour on a turnout of 71.3 per cent.
• Wincanton 68.4 per cent in favour on a turnout of 71.9 per cent.
• BP 60.2 per cent in favour on a turnout of 85.8 per cent.
• Hoyer 59.7 per cent in favour on a turnout of 79.7 per cent.
DHL drivers voted against strike action but voted in favour of action short of a strike.
Drivers at Suckling Transport voted against strike action and action short of strike.
Unite says that its 2,000 members make up 90 per cent of drivers delivering petrol in the UK.
The firms deliver fuel for about 11 oil companies supplying forecourts across the UK. Strike action could hit the petrol pumps of household names such Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, BP, Esso and Shell, as well as airports.
The union says that employers have been cutting drivers’ terms and conditions and cutting corners on training and safety in a bid to win contracts. Unite national officer, Matt Draper, said: “The professionalism of tanker drivers is at stake. We should not accept a lowering of standards so that the oil companies can maximise their profits.”
The government responded to the news saying it had contingency plans to deal with the event of a strike and has already started to put these in place to minimise any disruption to the general public.
Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: “The government stands ready to take whatever action we can to minimise the impact of any strike. If we have to, we will use emergency powers to make sure supplies for emergency services are prioritised and we will work to ensure trained military personnel are available to drive oil tankers.
“The Police will be on hand to ensure that strike action does not intimidate or prevent drivers that wish to work from doing so.”
And Davey called on the union to resume negotiations. “This is an industrial dispute and we strongly urge Unite to resolve it by getting back to the negotiating table, not by threatening the nation with economic and social disruption.
“Our economy is just getting back on its feet and any action that makes that harder is totally unjustified.”