SHELL TANKER DRIVERS OUT – from 6am Friday June 13th

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SIX HUNDRED Shell tanker drivers are to take four-day strike action from 6am on Friday, fighting for a £2,000 pay rise and a minimum wage of £36,000.

The drivers work for two transport firms – Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport – sub-contractors for Shell which, according to the Brown government, runs one-in-ten petrol stations.

Len McCluskey, Unite Assistant General Secretary, said yesterday: ‘Only Shell sets the terms of this contract and only it can solve this dispute.

‘This is one of the most profitable companies on earth and it now needs to provide the financial flexibility to avert this dispute.

‘It is no use Shell bosses, who have themselves enjoyed 15 per cent plus pay increases in the last year, sitting on their hands.

‘They have 72 hours to start focusing on avoiding the disruption this will cause to the general public who are already mindful of the staggering profits Shell rakes in.

‘Shell tanker drivers are earning exactly the same today as they were fifteen years ago while working for a company that makes £1.3 billion every month, profits our members’ hard work helps deliver.

‘So Unite is saying to Shell bosses, stop hiding behind your sub-contractor and help us sort out a solution.

‘This dispute could be settled for less than £1 million, an amount that would not put even the slightest dent in Shell profits.’

Haulier protesters told News Line why they support the truck drivers.

Derek Millington, a road haulier from Shrewsbury, said: ‘I would absolutely support the Shell tanker drivers.

‘This movement against high fuel prices is spreading, across the continent, across countries and across industries.

‘They are actually doing it in Europe as well – the hauliers and the fishermen.

‘I work for a quarry with my lorry. We’ve had a 6.4 per cent rise now, but it’s not enough, it doesn’t even cover the diesel.

‘I think nothing is going to happen until we bring London to a standstill.

‘Last Friday night a group went up to Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port. It wasn’t a blockade as such, but it was a presence.’

Derek added: ‘They’ve got the army with ADR licenses now, in preparation for trying to break our protest actions.’

Mick Clifton, a haulier from Lincolnshire, said: ‘Good luck to the Shell drivers is all I can say.

‘I’ve just come back from Belgium and when they go on strike there, or in France, they do a proper job of it. That’s what we need here.’

Unite is holding talks with the contractors at ACAS today.

A Downing Street spokesman said yesterday: ‘The prime minister has said he doesn’t think the strike is justified, since it would disproportionately impact on the lives of ordinary people not involved in the dispute.

‘The government is working with the wider fuel industry to minimise the disruption. We’ve put into place an agreement with the fuel industry.’

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reforms (BERR) said: ‘The government is working with the wider fuel industry on what could be done to reduce any disruption to the public and business.

‘We have already sanctioned the fuel industry to prepare for a jointly managed approach to resolving distribution and logistical challenges.

‘An established Memorandum of Understanding with the fuel industry has been in force since last Friday, June 6th.

‘This allows the industry to work more closely with the Department for Business while remaining within the scope of competition law under conditions previously agreed with the Office of Fair Trading.

‘This was recently used to good effect in Scotland during the Grangemouth dispute.’

BERR said Shell runs one-in-ten petrol stations in Britain and that it is ‘inevitable’ that in the event of a strike some would run out of fuel.