Unite the union will begin substantive talks with conciliation service Acas in a bid to resolve the oil tanker drivers’ dispute this Wednesday.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “We welcome this development and thank Acas for its efforts to pull all parties together. We call on the government to play its part and encourage the oil companies and major retailers to engage as well.

“For nearly two years, we have been trying to persuade the fuel distribution sector to work with us to defend best practice across the industry. It is vital that common, minimum standards on safety, training, wages and pensions are agreed to put a floor of best practice in the sector.

“We believe these matters can be resolved through meaningful negotiations. But to give these talks a chance of success, there must be an immediate end to mischievous briefing against the drivers.

“Talk of 27% pay rises from nameless employers is a deliberate effort to undermine the drivers’ case when employers know full well this is not a demand. Distortions like this must stop. These talks must be given the best chance of succeeding.

“The issues facing this industry are serious. It is beholden on all parties now to work constructively to solve them.”