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.
Unite said for the past year it had been seeking to establish minimum standards in the fuel oil distribution industry. "The industry has become increasingly fragmented and unstable," said a spokesman. "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 called 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 pensions
- 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 Easter should those talks break down.
“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. The government must set aside its 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.”