Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Only Shell can solve tanker drivers dispute: Len McCluskey of Unite Union

FT Home

Battered Brown put to the test by twin hurdles

By George Parker and Andrew Taylor

Published: June 11 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 11 2008 03:00

Gordon Brown faces a two-pronged test of his battered authority this week, starting with today’s cliff-hanger vote on extending pre-trial detention of terrorist suspects.

Downing Street admitted yesterday that the vote could be lost and that there was “more work to be done” to contain a Labour rebellion against plans to allow suspects to be held for 42 days.

The prime minister says the extension is vital to national security, but insists a Commons defeat would not amount to a vote of no-confidence in his leadership.

The Muslim Council of Britain appealed to Labour MPs to reject the measure, which it said would be counterproductive, damage community relations and undermine the UK’s moral authority around the world.

The outcome of the vote could lie in the hands of nine Democratic Unionist MPs, who are demanding concessions to bolster Northern Ireland’s economy in exchange for their support, and a handful of wavering Labour rebels.

However, several Labour MPs were standing firm in their opposition, including Michael Wood, who said: “Nothing they could say would change my mind.”

Some backbenchers may support the government because party whips have in effect turned the issue into a vote of confidence in the prime minister. “But that works both ways,” said Graham Stringer, who had not decided his vote.

The second challenge to Mr Brown’s leadership involves the prospect of imminent fuel shortages across Britain if 500 tanker drivers go ahead with a four-day strike due to start on Friday.

The prime minister yesterday urged consumers not to panic buy fuel ahead of any action by Shell drivers, but his spokesman admitted “millions of lives and livelihoods” could be affected.

Ministers have activated the first stage of a series of contingency measures that could include emergency rationing and the use of army drivers if picketing seriously disrupted supplies.

Talks between the tanker drivers and their employers – Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport – are due to take place today.

Unite, the drivers’ union, has sought to turn up the heat on Shell, which it blames for putting pressure on the hauliers to cut costs and keep wages down.

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “Only Shell sets the terms of this contract and only it can solve this dispute. This is one of the most profitable companies on earth and it now needs to provide the financial flexibility to avert this dispute.” and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

0 Comments on “Only Shell can solve tanker drivers dispute: Len McCluskey of Unite Union”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: