Union focuses on talks to resolve dispute

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Unite has ruled out Easter strike action by tanker drivers in a bid to focus on talks.

The announcement came as the union confirmed it was ready to start substantive talks through ACAS as soon as possible.

For more than a year Unite has been seeking to establish minimum standards in the fuel oil distribution industry and halt a race to bottom. The industry has become increasingly fragmented and unstable. As contracts are chopped and changed, standards in training, health and safety and terms and conditions are being eroded.

The union stressed that what it was seeking was not unreasonable and similar to standards in place elsewhere in the oil industry. Minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry have been in place since 2000, covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.

Unite went on to call on the government to assist in bringing employers, retailers and oil companies together to bring stability to the industry and establish minimum standards covering:

•       Health and safety procedures, processes and practices

•       Independently accredited training

•       Portable sector pension

•       Minimum standards in relation to rates of pay, hours of work and working/holiday/sickness/redundancy arrangements

•       Equal opportunities

•       Grievance and disciplinary procedures

•       Trade union facilities

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland, said: “We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through ACAS. We do still retain the right to call strike action for after the Easter should those talks breakdown.

“It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry. There have been minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry since 2000 covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.

“This is not a political dispute. It is an industrial dispute and the government’s recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement. They must set aside their political objectives and work with us, the employers, retailers and oil companies to achieve an outcome that is good for the industry and the country.”


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