Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 17:53 UK

Tanker drivers plan second strike

Tanker drivers on the picket line
On the picket line: Drivers are looking for higher pay

Fuel tanker drivers plan to strike across the UK next weekend, the haulage company Hoyer has said.

Earlier on Friday, 600 tanker drivers began a four-day strike over pay. Union officials said the latest strike dates were a "legal formality".

The drivers, who work for two companies delivering fuel to Shell forecourts, have picketed some oil depots.

So far, the strike's impact has been limited, and Shell says its contingency plans are working well.

Shell runs one in 10 of the country's fuel stations.

"Sales are high but are not at extreme levels, and there are very few signs of panic buying," a Shell statement said.

"This situation may change tomorrow and during the course of the strike, but today we are pleased that disruption to our customers has been kept to a minimum."

'Dangerous job'

IMPACT OF THE FUEL STRIKE
Chevron: No reported shortages at its 1,100 Texaco-branded service stations
BP: Getting most of its deliveries in and out of terminals
Sainsbury's: Not affected
Liverpool John Lennon Airport: Asking planes to "tanker in", to fill up before they head to the city

The two haulage firms, Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport, say unions rejected a pay offer which would take the drivers' average salary to 41,500 by January 2009.

"We wanted to resume further talks and are extremely disappointed the union plans to strike again so quickly," said Bernie Holloway from Hoyer UK, which is contracted by Shell to deliver fuel.

A Unite spokesman earlier said the company's offer would have increased salaries from just under 32,000 to 36,000. He said the companies' 41,500 figure could only be reached if possible overtime was included.

Unions point to Shell's bumper profits - helped by rising oil prices - and say drivers earn the same as they did in 1992 when they were directly employed by Shell.

Shell UK boss James Smith on the strike

Since then, Shell has outsourced the tanker driving jobs, handing the contract to an external company.

As a result, Shell said that it has no role to play in the current dispute as the pay row was between two of its suppliers and their workers, and does not involve Shell staff. It said it would not intervene in the dispute.

Union officials warned that the "dispute will carry on until Shell comes to the table".

"Driving a fuel tanker is a skilled and dangerous job," said Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, who joined the picket line at Stanlow, Ellesmere Port.

"The drivers are on 31,800. That is not a great deal of money. If they had remained with Shell, workers would be on 46,000."

Impact

Union members have set up picket lines outside Shell sites at some oil terminals around the UK. About three quarters of all fuel depots are not affected by the strike.

The scene at Kingsbury oil depot

At Shell's refinery in Stanlow, drivers held pickets, which read "Shell profits gush" and "Drivers' pay trickles".

Some tanker drivers not employed by the two firms are also refusing to cross picket lines.

Hoyer UK's Mr Holloway said most of its drivers who were not on a Shell contract were working normally.

The UK Petrol Industry Association (UKPIA), which represents oil refiners, said that stocks at forecourts were at normal levels and most garages would have around four days of supplies.

UKPIA estimated that demand for fuel was 30% higher than average for the time of year but said the industry could cope with the strike.

The Petrol Retailers' Association (PRA) said there were "significant sales increases" in some areas, with sales up 15% to 20%.

Overall stations are "well placed" for stocks, though some Shell stations said they would "have critical stock positions during the weekend", the PRA said.


SEE ALSO
Talks to avert tanker strike fail
11 Jun 08 |  Business
Drivers warned against fuel panic
10 Jun 08 |  Business
Talks over Shell driver pay fail
05 Jun 08 |  Business
Rising prices boost Shell and BP
29 Apr 08 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Sunday Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry - 22 mins ago
CNN Strikes spread across globe - 48 mins ago
Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry - 1 hr ago
Andover Advertiser Motorists face more fuel disruption - 1 hr ago
The Scotsman Motorists face more fuel disruption - 1 hr ago



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