By Maximilian Clarke
More than 100 Unite oil tanker drivers, working for road haulage firm Wincanton on the ConocoPhillips contract, will begin a week long series of stoppages from Tuesday 24 January to 31 January, over the company’s refusal to stop the attack on drivers’ pay and terms and conditions, says Unite, the UK’s biggest union.
The seven days of action, agreed by an overwhelming majority of Unite members at a mass meeting held yesterday (Sunday 15 January), follows last week’s resounding ‘yes’ vote in which 83 per cent backed the call to strike on a 96 per cent turn out.
The Wincanton oil tanker drivers - who work out of three of the UK’s major fuel distribution depots at Immingham, Kingsbury and Stockton-on-Tees delivering fuel to Jet forecourts around the UK - have had enough of the shabby treatment they have received at the hands of ConocoPhillips, which has been pursuing a draconian cost-down agenda with no thought to the job security of the drivers delivering its fuel.
Oil tanker drivers play a crucial role in the economy transporting millions of tonnes of fuel safely and on time across the country.
Matt Draper, Unite national officer, said: “Our members could not have sent a clearer message. Wincanton may well be surprised by the strength of feelings amongst its drivers, but it ignores their concerns at its peril.
“The steady erosion and the ongoing attack on the pay and terms and conditions of not only these drivers, but of all those in the industry, must stop. The drivers have had enough.
“ConocoPhillips holds the key to resolving this dispute. All it needs to do is re-think its decision to abandon TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment) and instead commit to protecting the terms and conditions of the drivers who deliver the company’s fuel to its forecourts safely and on time.
“ConocoPhillips has a duty to ensure that in the event of a contract tender or transfer, the terms and conditions of the drivers are protected. It must act now to stop this race to the bottom.”
The drivers, working on the ConocoPhillips contract, balloted for industrial action operate out of three of the UK’s major oil terminals; Kingsbury in Warwickshire, Immingham in Lincolnshire and Stockton-on-Tees in the North East. A seven-day stoppage to operations is likely to hit fuel supplies across the UK and in particular the Midlands and the north of the country.
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