Petrol dispute shock - tanker drivers and fuel firms agree

Out of use signs cover petrol pumps at a closed petrol station in Charlton, south east London Photo: PA

The big Easter get-away has been blighted by fears of a fuel fiasco...but I bring positive news. Both sides seem to agree.

I have spent today with the boss of one of the five big fuel delivery firms where drivers have voted to strike. You can hear what he says on ITV News later tonight. This follows the day I spent yesterday with a driver who voted to strike. What's remarkable is the extent to which they both agree.

A closed petrol station in Charlton, south east London Credit: PA

Strikes: Neither wants a strike and will do all possible to avert one. Both sides have agreed to talk and the union today ruled out any action around Easter.

Pensions: the union wants a new "portable pension" to help drivers who now switch between short contracts. The boss I spoke to is very open to discussions that would allow that.

Training: the union says poor training standards are creating a safety risk. The company boss agrees that unified standard training across the industry would be a positive move.

Terms and conditions: the union says short contracts are bad for the industry - the boss I was with agrees and has worked on delivering long contracts based on 10 year plus deals with the oil giants.

Cars queue for fuel at a Tesco store in Ashford, Middlesex Credit: PA

I suspect the real friction between the sides is slightly hidden. The delivery firms do not want unified industry standards to lead to some sort of hauliers minimum wage. The union still has to demonstrate that the changes it wants are not a Trojan horse for that

So with such agreement why are we in a mess? That's simple...problems been seen on the forecourts are the result of driver behaviour NOT the actual dispute.

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