There is no reason for the current tanker drivers strike which is hampering fuel deliveries to 380 Jet dealers, according to Chris Kingshott, managing director for manufacturing at Wincanton.

“As the biggest UK-owned transport and logistics company, and one of three distributors of fuel for our affected customer, Wincanton has done everything within its power to avoid this strike while ensuring that the relevant contingency plans are in place to minimise its impact on customers and consumers,” he stressed.

“We remain of the view that there is no reason for this strike. We have always had the same objective as our drivers – to extend the current contract and provide them with job security.”

Last Tuesday more than 120 oil tanker drivers at terminals in Immingham, Warwickshire and Stockton-on-Tees walked out in a dispute over Wincanton’s proposals to slash pay by up to 20% and downgrade workers’ pensions, according to Unite, the country’s biggest union.

However Kingshott said Wincanton’s tanker drivers were among the best rewarded in the UK, with average total earnings of £45,000 per annum, core working hours of 37 per week, premium overtime arrangements and a large percentage with a final salary pension.

“We started exploratory discussions with our drivers in June 2011 to establish how we could move to more flexible terms and conditions in order to deliver a market-competitive service to our customer and secure an extension of the contract when it expires.

“There was never any question that Wincanton would implement new terms and conditions without mutual agreement. These discussions were derailed by Unite, who forced a ballot for industrial action.”

Wincanton has confirmed to Unite that in the event of a tender process on the contract, it will fully comply with all legislative aspects of TUPE regulations to protect our employees’ terms and conditions.

“Unite seems determined that this assurance must come from the customer,” said Kingshott. “But as we are the employer, TUPE law will be applied, and it is Wincanton that must provide these assurances.

“We are disappointed that Unite has engineered this dispute to suit a wider agenda and created issues when the contract wasn’t even out to tender. This irresponsible action could now jeopardise the security of the contract and ultimately the jobs of our drivers.

“Responsible for delivering over 6,500,000,000 litres of fuel per annum across the UK, we can confirm that no other deliveries for our customers are affected by this action.”