Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 14:33 UK

Fuel drivers offered 14% pay rise

Drivers during the fuel strike
The strike by 640 tanker drivers disrupted fuel supplies across the UK

Tanker drivers delivering fuel for Shell have been offered a 14% pay increase over two years after their four-day strike hit UK fuel supplies.

The increase will be worth 9% in the first year and 5% in the second, taking average annual earnings to 41,750.

Drivers and union officials rejected an earlier offer of about 36,000. The union representing the drivers, Unite, has urged them to accept the new offer.

The strike affected petrol stations and oil depots across the UK this week.

It was called after drivers and union representatives failed to agree terms with two haulage firms, Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport, which are contracted to Anglo-Dutch oil firm Shell.

The drivers had threatened to hold a second round of strikes starting on Friday had an agreement not been reached.

Drivers will now be balloted on the deal and are expected to give their verdict by the end of this month.

Restocking pumps

The government has warned about inflationary pay rises, but said this deal was "particular" to the industry.

Speaking before details of the pay deal were confirmed, Business Secretary John Hutton said: "There needs to be discipline in public and private sector pay if we are to keep inflation under control."

Hoyer UK director Bernie Holloway on the pay deal

He also thanked the fuel industry for working hard to minimise disruption, "and the driving public for behaving responsibly over the difficult four days of the strike".

"Restocking at the pumps is now under way and we can expect things to return to normal over the next few days," he said.

The stoppage by about 600 drivers started on Friday and led to hundreds of petrol stations across Britain running out of fuel.

Further industrial action by the drivers, delivering for Shell, was due to take place at the weekend, but was called off after the pay deal was agreed on Tuesday.

Details of the settlement were given to drivers on Wednesday. Hoyer UK director Bernie Holloway told the BBC that it had agreed a deal with representatives of the Unite union that was worth 14% over two years.

It was not clear whether Shell was involved in the final settlement, but the firm welcomed the news.

'Inflation target'

Chancellor Alistair Darling also said the above-inflation pay deal was due to "particular problems" confined to the tanker dispute.

14% over two years for these truckers is obscene in the current financial climate, to say the least.
Andy, Nottingham

"Settlements overall over the last 12 months are around 3.5% which is consistent with our inflation target," Mr Darling told the BBC.

His comments come a day after the latest UK inflation data showed the annual rate rose to 3.3% in May, up from 3% in April and well above the target of 2%.

Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned that rising food and energy prices could push UK consumer inflation above 4% this year.

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