Is anyone really talking in this fuel dispute?

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

He says, she says

Tonight the union, Unite, says they were not invited to a meeting held by the government today to talk about the fuel strike. Retailers and distributors were there. Unite says they want to have talks but they cannot get the companies involved around the table to engage. They're now writing to the government asking them to help facilitate proper talks.

The firms involved however say they have been talking and that dialogue is ongoing. Indeed a meeting of the 'Fuel Forum' took place last Friday, where the union and the companies who move fuel around the country were sitting around the table discussing the issues.

Petrol pumps Credit: Reuters

So can both things be true? The 'Fuel Forum' was created for the two sides to exchange ideas and try to solve some of the problems in the industry. But discussion of terms and conditions is actually excluded from the talks held under the umbrella of the Forum.

So the union and the distributors can meet, and talk, even talk for a very long time, but not actually discuss many of the central issues that are in dispute.

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