RMI Petrol has called for an investigation into “unjustifiable increases” to small rural retailers’ bulk fuel purchases from their wholesalers as the Wincanton drivers’ strike continues.

Tanker drivers walked out at 5am on Friday after break-down of talks between Unite union members and Wincanton, again mounting picket lines at depots in Immingham, Kingsbury and Stockton-on-Tees, vowing to strike until February 16.

Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol, said: “This strike is paralysing supplies of Jet brand fuel from the ConocoPhilips refinery near Immingham and their inland terminal at Kingsbury in the Midlands. Some large groups of Jet dealers are facing very severe financial pressure as they are forced to find alternative supplies but at uneconomical rates.”

One member of RMI Petrol has formally complained that he is being forced to pay 5ppl over the normal market rate just to get a delivery and service his customers.

“This smacks of profiteering by the oil wholesalers and should be immediately investigated,” said Madderson. “More small, rural forecourts will close and even larger groups will be threatened by such opportunism. It is the motorist who will suffer as well.”

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “Tanker drivers are once again showing their determination to defend their pay and conditions. We had hoped we could resolve the dispute through the talks and offered concessions. But Wincanton’s failure to offer these highly skilled drivers security over their futures and their pay and conditions means that the supply of fuel to Jet forecourts is once again under threat.

“Wincanton needs to recognise the strength of feeling and start talking seriously about a fair solution.”

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