Tanker drivers who supply Euro Garages and Esso sites are threatening to take industrial action in a dispute with their employer Hoyer Petrolog UK.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is warning that petrol shortages and delays to flights are likely if the tanker drivers based in Ellesmere Port take industrial action in a pay dispute.

The workers are employed on the Flexi-Fleet Petrolog contract and undertake deliveries to Euro Garages and Esso forecourts, and the union claims the dispute would also impact the operations of BP, Shell and Essar at the Stanlow refinery.

According to Unite, the dispute is a result of Hoyer operating several different contracts from its Ellesmere Port hub, employing tanker drivers on different terms and conditions and different rates of pay.

It says Unite members on the Flexi-Fleet Petrolog contract were prepared to enter into a three-year pay deal, provided the pay disparities, which results in the Flexi-Fleet drivers being paid £2 an hour less than their colleagues, would be closed, but Hoyer refused to tackle the pay disparity.

The workers have backed industrial action in a consultative ballot and a full industrial ballot is currently being prepared.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “Our members are highly qualified, skilled and dedicated but Hoyer is ignoring this when bidding for contracts, in what can only be described as a race to the bottom.

“Hoyer has said it has to remain competitive when bidding for contracts but our members have made it clear that they will no longer accept the inbuilt pay disparity.

“If strike action occurs it will have a massive impact on fuel deliveries throughout the North West and beyond.

“However our members will only take strike action as a last resort. Unite remains open to negotiations at any time. However, the only way a dispute can now be avoided is if the company takes the pay claim seriously.”

Hoyer Petrolog was invited to comment on Unite’s claims.