Unite says 90% of the drivers – based at Grangemouth oil refinery – voted for industrial action in dispute over pensions and pay

Tim Lezard

fuel pumpsTanker drivers are to begin begin a 76-hour strike from Friday morning, threatening fuel supplies to all of Scotland’s airports and scores of petrol forecourts north of the border and in the North East of England.

Unite says 90% of the drivers – based at the Grangemouth refinery near Falkirk – voted for industrial action in the dispute over pensions and pay.

Officials say BP – which posted profits worth more than £7.6bn in 2012 – is exploiting employment legislation to ‘swindle’ workers out of their retirement savings.

More than 40 tanker drivers are involved in the dispute, which arises out of the transfer of a key fuel transport contract from BP to a new employer, DHL.

Unite says the drivers stand to lose more than £1,400 a year in pay which was tied to a BP share purchase scheme when they begin work under the new contract and as much as £100,000 from the value of their pension.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Tony Trench told UnionNews: “The only reason DHL have got this contract is because they’ve driven down the drivers’ terms and other costs.”

Last winter, Unite tanker drivers working for Wincanton and supplying forecourts across much of east and central England took more than 2 weeks of strike action in a dispute over pay, pensions and training.

This was followed by the 3-month dispute with the UK’s 6 major fuel distribution companies.

Despite a substantial vote in favour of industrial action and a wave of panic buying triggered by a succession of government statements, the dispute was finally settled in May 2012 without a strike.

Said Tony Trench: “Last year, BP’s Chief Executive Bob Dudley was awarded a bonus of £2.6m.

“It’s the same old story of fat-cat executives dictating a race to the bottom on workers’ terms and conditions while their own snouts are stuck firmly in the trough.

“There is still time to avoid a strike – one that will cause significant disruptions to Scotland’s transport infrastructure – if BP comes to its senses and protects the workers ahead of their transfer which they can more than afford to do.”

The Grangemouth drivers intend to begin a work-to-rule immediately after the first strike ends on Monday morning.  A second 4-day strike is due to begin on 28 February if there is no settlement in the dispute.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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