Retailers have been warned that fuel tanker drivers could strike later this year unless job losses, pay cuts and

’constant reorganisation’ are stopped.

Unite, the country’s biggest union, said it had called an autumn summit to discuss what action needed to be taken after warning that morale among drivers was at an all time low.

It stated: "The UK’s major oil companies, retailers and independents providing fuel for the nation have been warned by Unite the union that their strategy of squeezing the conditions of delivery drivers to feed profits will backfire with potentially serious consequences for the country.

"With morale among the estimated 3,000 drivers at an all-time low, Unite has written to the leading operators in the fuel sector to warn them that unstable employment, redundancies arising from constant reorganisation of operations and attacks on earnings are forcing the workforce towards conflict.

"Such is the scale of the problems Unite has called an autumn summit to consider the action needed to safeguard stability within the sector. Unite is urging the employers to stop and think again about their employment strategy, offering them this opportunity to enter into discussions now with the union to avert possible industrial action later in the year."

Ron Webb, Unite’s national officer for logistics, said: "We have consistently warned the oil employers that their strategy of attacking wages and squeezing more and more out of their drivers but giving them less and less in return will backfire.

"Unfortunately, they have not listened so now we are at a very dangerous moment for this sector. In my 15 years as a negotiator for this sector I have never witnessed such low morale among the drivers. This is a workforce which is highly specialist and delivers a product this country’s smooth functioning depends upon. They are also working for some of the most profitable companies in the land. All they are asking for in return is a wage which reflects their hard work and professionalis."