Fuel supplies will be hit when seven days of strike action gets under way from dawn tomorrow (Tuesday 24 January). Oil tanker drivers, employed by the road haulage firm Wincanton, are set to walk out in the dispute over attacks on workers’ pay, terms and conditions, as the company proposes to slash pay by up to 20 per cent and downgrade workers’ pensions, according to Unite, the country’s biggest union.

The dispute threatens to disrupt fuel supplies to the UK’s 380 Jet forecourts, which are owned by the Texas-based oil giant ConocoPhillips.

The drivers, who operate out of Immingham, will hold a mass, pre-picket rally with family and friends on Tuesday 24 January from 7am at ABP Immingham Docks, Immingham, North East Lincolnshire.

Unite said it had been warning for more than a year that the draconian cost-down agenda pursued by the employers was de-stabilising the industry. The union has been pushing for government and the industry to "stabilise the distribution of this vital national commodity" by introducing minimum standards for oil tanker drivers.

According to Unite, more than 200 oil tanker drivers from across the industry attended a mass meeting in Immingham yesterday (Sunday, January 22) to give their support to the striking drivers and to back Unite’s call to end rocketing instability in the sector.

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “The frustration expressed by Wincanton’s oil tanker drivers can be seen right across the sector. Drivers are under increasing strain, working in a very unstable industry with pressure to deliver fuel round the clock, but where terms and conditions are being slashed.

"It’s time the major players stopped riding roughshod over the drivers. Only minimum standards can ensure that the dangerous job of delivering fuel is undertaken by highly skilled drivers. These drivers criss-cross the country delivering up to 38,000 litres of petrol at any one time, the risks are huge but the thanks they get is an attack on their livelihoods.

“Wincanton and ConocoPhillips hold the key to resolving the dispute. They need to get round the table with us to solve this before this instability spreads."

More than 120 of Wincanton’s oil tanker drivers, operating out of the UK’s three major oil terminals: Immingham in north east Lincolnshire, Kingsbury, near Warwickshire and Stockton on Tees in the north east, plan to walk out for seven days of action from 5.00am on Tuesday, January 24 to 4.59am on Tuesday, January 31,2012.