Fuel tanker driver ballot: So the strike is on

Tankers standing idle at the Shell petrol tanker depot at the Coryton West Site in Essex Photo: PA

Tanker drivers in the Unite union have voted to go on strike. We don't know when yet, or the scale of any walkouts. At two of the seven distribution companies where workers were balloted they did not approve the action.

In fact at one firm, Suckling, drivers were overwhelmingly against the idea. But across the board there was easily enough support for the union to take strike action if and when they see fit.

In the next few days union officials will work out how and when they will use the mandate. At this stage they will not rule out taking action over the Easter holidays. But the assistant general secretary, Diana Holland told me they still hoped action could be averted.

The issue she said is not about pay, but very clearly about safety.

Petrol Tankers come and go from Stanlow Oil refinery, Ellesmere port, Cheshire. Credit: PA

One driver told me today that over time his company had been cutting the amount of time he is being given to get from A to B, sometimes by up to an hour. He said that was pushing drivers sometimes to break the speed limits and to take risks. And the company he works for imposes a £15 fine on drivers for every delivery they miss.

What Unite says is that it wants to get everyone in the industry around the table to agree minimum standards for all firms to follow. But BP, one of the companies involved says they are disappointed that the union is going ahead with the action as discussions have been ongoing.

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