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Talks to resume in Shell dispute

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Talks to resume in Shell dispute

Picket line at Shell depot

The drivers rejected an earlier pay offer, leading to the four-day action

Talks in the pay dispute between haulage firms contracted to Shell and their tanker drivers, who began a strike on Friday, are to resume later.

By Sunday, more than 600 of the 8,700 petrol stations around Britain had run out of unleaded and diesel fuels.

The drivers say they will hold a second four-day stoppage next weekend if the dispute is not resolved.

But the union Unite says there is ground for optimism, and the employers claim both sides have moved position.

The strike, affecting England, Wales and Scotland, began on Friday when the earlier talks over pay broke down.

Shell runs 10% of the country’s fuel stations, but industry sources suggest its market share could be as much as 17%.

‘Lot of work’

The BBC’s workplace correspondent, Martin Shankleman, said: “These new talks come just three days after the collapse of the previous negotiations, so the fact that they’re being held at all gives grounds for fresh optimism”.

Union officials have maintained informal contact with managers from the two haulage firms Hoyer and Suckling Transport, which are contracted to Shell.

The two sides in the dispute are due to meet at a secret location later.

The haulage companies have said unions rejected a pay offer taking the drivers’ average salary to £41,500 by January 2009.

 

THE SHELL PAY STRIKE
The striking drivers work for two companies, Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport, contracted to Shell
Industrial action began when pay talks broke down this week
The companies say unions rejected a pay offer taking the drivers’ average salary to £41,500 by January 2009
But the Unite union says the offer would have increased salaries from just under £32,000 to £36,000
The drivers are planning a second four-day stoppage next week if the dispute is not settled

However, Unite says the offer would have increased salaries from just under £32,000 to £36,000.

The workers are not due to return to work until 0600 BST on Tuesday, and have mounted picket lines at terminals and fuel sites across the country.

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said both sides would be back at the negotiating table to try to end the dispute.

“We’re hoping and we’ll be working hard to try and conclude a satisfactory resolution to the dispute,” he said.

Hoyer director Bernie Holloway said: “I don’t think we should kid ourselves – there’s a lot of work to be done – but we’re hopeful.”

James Smith, chairman of Shell UK, welcomed news that talks would start again.

“I think what everyone hopes for is a good and fair settlement – and let’s hope that’s what we see tomorrow morning,” he said.

Business Secretary John Hutton said the negotiations were an encouraging step forward.

He added: “I hope it is possible for the two sides to reach an agreement so as to avoid any repetition of this weekend’s disruption.”

By Sunday afternoon, 647 petrol stations out of 8,700 in England, Scotland and Wales were out of the standard fuels, compared with 112 on Saturday, a spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said.

Shell said that shortages had affected one or more fuel grades at approximately 249 of its sites.

SEE ALSO
Talks to avert tanker strike fail 
11 Jun 08 |  Business

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Sunday Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry – 22 mins ago
CNN Strikes spread across globe – 48 mins ago
Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry – 1 hr ago
Andover Advertiser Motorists face more fuel disruption – 1 hr ago
The Scotsman Motorists face more fuel disruption – 1 hr ago

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7455755.stm

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