ConocoPhillips has let Jet dealers down by failing to plan for strike action by Wincanton tanker drivers, according to Top 50 Indie Brobot Petroleum.
Eddie Bright, director of the Leicester-based company which operates 22 Jet-branded sites, said: “It is very unfortunate that Jet failed to plan any contingency despite knowing the possibility of strike action several weeks earlier.
“I’m sure I’m not the only Jet dealer who feels very let down when a plan could have been in place to ensure their network of continuity of supply; instead it has simply invoked ’force majeure’ and left dealers to sort themselves out with just a few hours’ notice. Not what I’d call a partnership!
“It is somewhat hectic trying to arrange alternative supply with no notice, but other suppliers are being as helpful as they can,” added Eddie. “As for as I know this is a Wincanton/Unite dispute which only affects the Jet contract and as such it shouldn’t have a knock-on affect with other suppliers.”
Meanwhile, John Lynn, managing director of Top 50 Indie MRH, said: "It’s mad here today. We are arranging trucking to collect product for us." The company operates 54 Jet-branded sites – 11 sourced from the terminal in Immingham, which has become the focus of strike action with 86 of the 123 tanker drivers on the picket line.
Tony Conway, marketing manager at ConocoPhillips, said: “We very much regret that our dealer customers have been impacted adversely by this action brought by Unite. However, our response is limited by the UK infrastructure which reduces the options available, in particular the availability of specialist haulage companies who are able to make fuel deliveries on our behalf. We understand our dealers’ concerns, and in particular the economic impacts of this action, and we can assure them that we share a desire that the drivers return to work as soon as possible.”
Earlier today Conway said that Wincanton tanker drivers accounted for around 20% of the delivery drivers that use the ConocoPhillips terminals in Immingham, Warwickshire and Stockton-on-Tees, and that contingency plans were in place at its depots around the country.
More than 120 oil tanker drivers have walked out in a dispute over Wincanton’s proposals to slash pay by up to 20% and downgrade workers’ pensions, according to Unite, the country’s biggest union.