IN the last few weeks we have seen the road hauliers take to the streets against the massive increases in petrol and diesel prices that are putting their family businesses into bankruptcy.
They were unable to get any pledge or promise from the Labour government that it would lower the duty on fuel to give them and their families a bit of a breathing space.
They were joined by other members of the public who held a motor bike protest in Manchester on June 5th, which was supported by taxi drivers and ordinary motorists also condemning the way that while the oil companies are making billions in profits, they are now being made to pay over £5 a gallon for petrol.
On Friday night road hauliers blockaded the Stanlow oil refinery near Ellesmere Port, while yesterday morning road hauliers in a convoy of 60 vehicles drove from Strathclyde to the Scottish parliament.
Then yesterday Unite confirmed that unless the employer conceded, 650 Hoyer tanker drivers who keep Shell’s petrol stations supplied are to take four days of strike action from 6am Friday morning to 6am Monday morning.
The tanker drivers have put in for a 13 per cent wage rise and say that they earn no more today than they were earning in 1992, £32,000 a year.
Hoyer have offered only 6.8 per cent, while Shell which makes £1 billion a month oil profits is just standing by giving encouragement to Hoyer.
Unite, national officer Ron Webb commented: ‘It is time Shell intervened directly and stopped leaving this problem in the hands of its contractor. Shell makes over £1 billion a month in profits and there is no excuse for allowing tanker drivers to be paid no more than they were getting fifteen years ago.
‘Our members are upset that these negotiations have dragged on for seven months. It’s high time that this super-rich business shared its success with these employees. Shell/Hoyer tanker drivers are paid £32,000 per annum, roughly the same as they were paid in 1992. Since being contracted out to Hoyer they have seen their pay cut which has led to a worsening of their pension provision.’
The movement that is erupting in the UK is part and parcel of the revolution that is sweeping through France, Spain, Italy and Greece amongst road hauliers, tanker drivers and fishermen who are taking strike action and blocking the ports.
It is crystal clear that millions of workers will immediately support the tanker drivers whose action will spread rapidly to the rest of the oil refineries.
Yesterday the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said that there was no justification for the Hoyer strike action, while the Home Office said that measures were already in place to deal with the consequences of any strike action.
It is, however, pretty clear that if the employer will not concede to the tanker drivers, the country will be stopped by the end of the week, and the situation will have emerged for bringing the government down.
This is why yesterday, Alan Douglas, the shadow Tory Minister for Industry said that he and the Tory party will stand shoulder to shoulder with Gordon Brown and that it was nonsense for workers to demand a ‘huge’ wage rise because the oil companies were making billions.
There is no doubt that an oil tankers strike will see Brown and Cameron join hands in the COBRA Civil Contingencies Committee to organise the police and troops for strike breaking.
In this situation workers need a clear and decisive leadership.
Every section of workers must support the tanker drivers and the road hauliers, by taking strike action alongside them.
Such a mass strike movement must beat the Brown government and not hesitate to bring it down, and then bring in a workers government that will put an end to any idea that there is going to be a return of the Tories by carrying out socialist policies.
For a start such a government will nationalise the banks and renationalise the North Sea oil and gas fields as well as the Shell and BP oil companies. This will immediately supply the government with massive resources so that society can move forward.