Pump prices continue to set new record highs as tanker strike looms

PETROL and diesel pump prices are rising to new record highs seemingly daily and now there is a threat to forecourt supplies with tanker drivers voting to strike.

 

The average price of a litre of unleaded petrol has reached 140.2p and a litre of diesel costs 146.7p, according to industry analysts Experian Catalist. Higher oil prices, driven by concerns aboutIran, have been behind the rising price of fuel. Crude oil prices have risen 12% since January.

 

‘A figure of £1.40 a litre is a massive price for people to have to pay and there is no end in sight to rising prices,’RACtechnical director David Bizley told theBBC. ‘The way things are going the planned duty rise will see average petrol prices hit the £1.50-a-litre mark.’

 

Meanwhile, tanker drivers delivering fuel to petrol pumps across theUKhave voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over safety and growing instability in the fuel industry.

 

Mike Curtis, corporate sales director at Arval , has urged fleet drivers not to panic buy, which could lead to unnecessary shortages, but instead maintain their usual purchasing patterns.

 

He said: ‘It is sensible to be aware of local conditions in your area, so check the local media to identify if there are any issues with supply and share this information with your business drivers.

 

‘For companies with a fuel policy, this demonstrates the importance of selecting a fleet provider offering a fuel management service that delivers a broad network which allows drivers to conveniently access fuel from the majority of forecourts. Fuel cards operating on a restricted network may force drivers to travel further to find somewhere where they can refuel; wasting time, fuel and money.

 

‘This news reinforces that journey planning is an essential exercise for business drivers. Working refuelling stops into their journey will ensure that they can refuel when required, and at the cheapest forecourts, without having to travel out of their way.

 

‘While some business-need drivers will have no choice but to maintain their current driving activity, for other employees there may be the opportunity to lift share, reducing the requirement to refuel as often.’

 

Members of Unite working for five major fuel distribution firms delivering fuel for household names, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso backed a call for strike action by an average of 69%. Turnouts across the five companies averaged 77.7%.

 

Unite urged the employers to meet their responsibilities and talk meaningfully about establishing reasonable minimum standards that secure the stability of ‘this vital national industry’.

 

The union says that tanker drivers work in an increasingly fragmented and pressurised industry where corners were being cut on safety and training in a bid to squeeze profits and win contracts.

 

Drivers faced growing job insecurity as a result of the contract ‘merry-go-round’ and a ‘beat the clock’ culture had flourished with drivers forced to meet ever shorter delivery deadlines, said Unite.

 

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: ‘These votes send a clear message throughout the industry and should prompt all the major companies to get around the table to establish minimum standards.’

 

Strikes are likely to be called for next month, so industrial action could possibly be over the Easter weekend. However, talks between the union and employers could start at conciliation serviceACASsoon.

 

Government ministers say the training of Army drivers has started as part of contingency plans being drawn up to avoid major disruption to fuel supplies.

 

The Road Haulage Association said it was disappointed that strike action had been opted for at a time when the price of fuel was of paramount importance toUKhauliers and the general public.

 

The Association said it believed that the action, when fuels prices were so high, by drivers who enjoyed amongst the best working terms and conditions in the haulage industry, would not be welcomed by hauliers and the public and would have a negative impact on the economy.

 


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