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Refinery row threatens talks to end tanker driver strikes logo

Refinery row threatens talks to end tanker driver strikes

· Suspensions follow refusal to cross picket lines
· Over 600 filling stations run out of supplies

A dispute over the treatment of Scottish tanker drivers threatens to derail talks aimed at preventing a second round of fuel strikes this week. A four-day strike by Shell tanker drivers came to an end at 6am this morning, but a second wave of strikes is set to start on Friday unless a pay dispute between the drivers and their employers is resolved.

The Unite union and Hoyer and Suckling, the companies contracted to transport Shell’s stocks, will resume talks today after the latest round of discussions failed to reach a settlement. Negotiators from both sides struck an optimistic note yesterday, saying their negotiations, at secret location in London, had been “helpful”.

But a potential problem arose last night at Grangemouth oil refinery, when union officials said around a dozen tanker drivers were suspended by Scottish Fuels, the largest independent oil supplier in Scotland, after they refused to cross picket lines. No one from Scottish Fuels was available for comment last night.

Tanker drivers from other haulage firms have refused to cross picket lines at 14 terminals and depots throughout the UK in solidarity with the 640 Shell drivers.

Government sources confirmed there had been an “escalation of trouble” at Grangemouth, which was temporarily shut down in April over a dispute about pensions, but said the situation had been resolved and deliveries would resume as normal.

But one negotiator said the Grangemouth dispute had complicated the talks of Shell tanker drivers. He said punitive action by companies against their tanker drivers was irresponsible and could prompt the Shell dispute to “spiral” into a more widespread issue.

Representatives of several thousand UK petrol tanker drivers will convene an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the crisis, including allegations of intimidation of non-Shell tanker drivers.

The government said 616 filling stations had run out of one or more types of fuel. Shell said 249 of its sites were affected – suggesting that the strikes have had a knock-on effect throughout the industry. The number of garages running out of fuel as the strike came to an end this morning was estimated to be 7% of the 8,900 sites across the UK.

The business secretary, John Hutton, has welcomed the latest talks, describing them as “an encouraging step forward”. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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