Petrol shortages and flight disruption likely if tanker drivers vote for action

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Union leaders are warning that petrol shortages and delays to flights are likely if tanker drivers take industrial action in a pay dispute.

The drivers are employed by Hoyer Petrolog UK Limited based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Unite the Union says they work on the Flexi-Fleet Petrolog contract and undertake deliveries to Euro garages and also Exxon Esso forecourts.

The company also delivers aviation fuel to Leeds Bradford Airport on behalf of Essar’s Stanlow Oil refinery, and Liverpool John Lennon airport on behalf of World Fuels Services.

The dispute would also impact the operations of BP, Shell and Essar at the Stanlow refinery.

Unite says the dispute is a result of Hoyer operating several different contracts from its Ellesmere Port hub, but employing tanker drivers on different terms and conditions and different rates of pay.

The workers have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a consultative ballot and a full industrial ballot is currently being prepared. If members vote for strike action then disruption to garages and airports is likely to occur this Autumn.

Unite members on the Flexi-Fleet Petrolog contract were prepared to enter into a three-year pay deal, provided the pay disparities, which results in the Flexi-Fleet drivers being paid £2 an hour less than their colleagues, would be closed. Unite claims Hoyer refused to tackle the pay disparity.

The union claims that the pay of a Hoyer director has increased from £239,487 in 2017 to £290,629, according to the company’s 2018 accounts.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “Our members are highly-qualified, skilled and dedicated, but Hoyer is ignoring this when bidding for contracts, in what can only be described as a race to the bottom.

“Hoyer has said it has to remain competitive when bidding for contracts, but our members have made it clear that they will no longer accept the inbuilt pay disparity.

“If strike action occurs it will have a massive impact on fuel deliveries throughout the North West and beyond.

“However, our members will only take strike action as a last resort. Unite remains open to negotiations at any time.”

A Hoyer Petrolog spokesperson said: “Talks between the company and Unite the Union remain ongoing at a senior level to reach a productive conclusion to our discussions with this small group of drivers.

“This process has now confirmed that no ballot for industrial action is actually planned to take place.

“Hoyer Petrolog has business-wide contingencies in place to ensure continued service through a range of potential scenarios and we are confident that there is no threat to supply.”