13 June 2008 | Paul Snell
Trade union Unite is blaming an outsourced logistics deal for the strike disrupting petrol deliveries today.
Drivers from contractors Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport have taken to the picket lines at 14 delivery terminals in the UK in a four-day strike over salaries. Negotiations between the companies and the union broke down last night. Hoyer said this followed an earlier rejection of an offer from the firms to raise pay by 6.5 per cent. The companies added all parties were keen to find a resolution. Unite represents 641 drivers across the two firms.
Ron Webb, national officer at the union, said: "Shell/Hoyer tanker drivers are paid £32,000 per annum, roughly the same as they were paid in 1992. Since being contracted out to Hoyer they have seen their pay cut, which has led to a worsening of their pension provision."
Joint general-secretary of Unite, Tony Woodley also told the BBC from the picket line: "Shell outsourced my members' jobs years ago to cut costs and have been very successful at the workers' expense."
The union had urged Shell to intervene in the dispute. "It is time Shell intervened directly and stopped leaving this problem in the hands of its contractor," said Webb. "Shell makes over £1 billion a month in profits and there is no excuse for allowing tanker drivers to be paid no more than they were getting 15 years ago."
Shell said it is not involved in the dispute and its main concerns were for motorists and the significant impact the strike would have on its petrol stations.