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Talks held in fuel tankers dispute
The Unite union is to meet seven distribution companies in a bid to head off the threat of strikes by fuel tanker drivers
Talks aimed at resolving the fuel tanker drivers dispute and head off the threat of strikes are to be held.
Officials from the Unite union and seven distribution companies will meet under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas.
The dispute over terms and conditions and health and safety has been brewing for more than a year but flared up last week when Unite announced that workers in five of the firms had voted to strike. The Government advised motorists to top up with fuel, leading to chaotic scenes at garages across the country as people queued for petrol.
Unite announced on Friday it would not be striking over Easter as it engaged with Acas over the peace moves, and would have to give seven days notice of any industrial action.
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: "For nearly two years, we have been trying to persuade the fuel distribution sector to work with us to defend best practice across the industry. It is vital that common, minimum standards on safety, training, wages and pensions are agreed to put a floor of best practice in the sector."
Allan Davison, divisional director of Hoyer, one of the firms involved in the dispute, said he was "very hopeful" a solution to the dispute would be found and the strike would be headed off.
"It's not in anyone's interest to have a strike - for ourselves, for the drivers, for the members of the public and everyone else - so we're hopeful we can get to some sort of resolution," he told ITV's Daybreak programme.
And he offered assurance that plans had been made for coping if a strike did go ahead. "It could be damaging but we along with other companies are looking at contingency plans," he said. "We're working with the military to get trained drivers in and that process at this point in time is working very well for us."
The chairman of the body which represents thousands of independent petrol stations has called for urgent discussions with ministers over Britain's transport fuel "crisis".
In a letter to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Brian Madderson of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) predicted that fuel shortages caused by last week's panic buying could continue until at least the Easter weekend and possibly beyond as petrol stations struggle to restock.