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Shell drivers urged to back pay deal

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Shell drivers urged to back pay deal

By George Parker

Published: June 18 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 18 2008 03:00

Shell tanker drivers’ leaders last night agreed a two-year pay deal with employers, lifting the threat of a further strike next weekend and another round of fuel shortages at the pumps.

Although details of the proposed settlement will not be presented formally to drivers until today, it is expected to include a big upfront payment, which could embarrass ministers who this week called for pay discipline to help hold down inflation.

However, government officials say the first payment reflects “historical grievances” between drivers and the haulage companies, and the pay rise in the second year is expected to be nearer the private sector norm of just below 4 per cent.

John Hutton, business secretary, said: “This settlement reflects particular conditions within this sector. However, the government remains clear, as the Treasury chief secretary said this week, there needs to be discipline in public and private sector pay if we are to keep inflation under control.”

Yesterday hundreds of garages were still out of one or more types of fuel after a four-day strike by more than 600 Shell tanker drivers, which saw drivers from other companies refusing to cross picket lines at distribution depots.

Mr Hutton added: “Restocking at the pumps is now under way and we can expect things to return to normal over the next few days.”

The pay deal was agreed yesterday between officials of Unite, the union representing the drivers, and Hoyer and Suckling, the haulage companies contracted by Shell to deliver fuel to its filling stations.

A brief statement said: “Hoyer, Suckling and Unite are pleased to confirm that they have successfully concluded pay talks.”

Following the meeting at the union’s London headquarters, Unite will present the new deal, details of which were being kept secret, to drivers.

The drivers will be balloted over the coming week with a recommendation to accept the deal. All industrial action has been called off.

The drivers walked out last Friday at 6am, returning at 6am yesterday. They picketed fuel depots and refineries, and warned of a further four-day strike from Friday.

The union had rejected a pay offer of 7.3 per cent this year and 6 per cent next, and accused Shell of refusing to intervene in the row.

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