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Comment by former Shell exec Paddy Briggs on UK tanker driver pending strike: Is Shell really “locked in talks?” I doubt it.

By Paddy Briggs

Is Shell really “locked in talks?” I doubt it. Remember that they walked away from involvement in oil product distribution years ago when they sacked their drivers and “contracted out”. The drivers work for independent contractors and neither the contractors nor the drivers owe any loyalty at all to Shell. In the past the drivers were Shell employees. Sure there were industrial disputes but in my experience the drivers and other blue-collar workers were part of the Shell family in the UK and essentially loyal. Within Shell there was an expert team working on Industrial Relations whose task was to understand the needs and aspirations or unionised staff and to dialogue with their representatives. I’m not saying that it was a golden age, but at least there was a forum for debate and discussion and at least we were all in receipt of a Shell pay cheque at the end of the month. That all went when Shell stopped employing drivers and the basis of a dialogue just does not exist any more. Shell may be talking with the contractors’ bosses – but I doubt that they are talking with the drivers or their representatives…

Paddy Briggs

Paddy worked for Shell for 37 years during the last fifteen of which he was responsible for Brand management in a number of appointments. He was the winner of the “Shell/Economist” writing prize (internal) in 2001. Paddy retired from Shell in 2002 to form the brand consultancy BrandAware and to write and speak on brand and reputation matters.

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