UK

Fuel dispute: Unions and haulage firms at Acas

A sign outside a petrol station on 30 March
Image caption Fuel haulage companies and the Unite union are meeting at a secret London location

Formal negotiations aimed at resolving the fuel dispute which led to panic-buying at pumps over the past week have been adjourned, resuming on Thursday.

Conciliation service Acas is hosting talks at a secret location with the Unite union, representing tanker drivers, and seven fuel haulage firms.

Drivers at five of the firms voted to strike in the long-running dispute.

Both sides are focused on a wide range of issues, including safety training and pensions.

They have been sitting in separate rooms with a team of Acas conciliators shuttling between them.

Year-long dispute

The seven companies involved in the driver dispute - Wincanton, DHL, BP, Hoyer, JW Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle and Turners - are responsible for supplying 90% of the UK's petrol stations. They also supply airports.

Workers at DHL and JW Suckling voted against a strike, but backed action short of a strike.

The dispute has been going on for more than a year, with Unite saying that sub-contracting across the fuel haulage industry is undermining the pay, conditions and safety training of its drivers.

The union has called for minimum standards of pay, hours, holiday and redundancy.

The companies say drivers can earn an average of £45,000 a year, and that the training is good.

On Monday, petrol stations said they were struggling to restock after last week's run on the pumps.

The government faced widespread criticism for urging motorists to keep their petrol tanks topped up. It has since toned down its advice, saying there is now no danger of a strike over the Easter holidays.

Under rules governing strikes, the union would have to give seven days' notice of any industrial action.

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