Tanker Drivers Offer: 14% Over 2 Years

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Shell tanker drivers working for contracted suppliers Hoyer UK and Suckling are being balloted on a 14% rise over two years pay deal reached after a four-day strike which saw hundreds of petrol stations run dry.

The increase is said to be worth 9% in the first year and 5% in the second.

Their union, Unite, called off this weekend’s planned four-day strike and a planned overtime ban and is recommending acceptance.

Despite the employers confirming the figures, Unite said that details of the deal were being kept secret and refused to make a statement yesterday, saying it was saying nothing until members had voted on whether or not to accept the deal.

One union official was reported as saying ‘we got everything we were looking for’ but members had sought a 12.5% rise this year and with the deal being half that, they may yet reject it.

It was not clear whether Shell was involved in the final settlement, but the oil giant welcomed the news.

After two days of talks at the Unite head office in London, a terse statement issued on Tuesday evening said: ‘Hoyer, Suckling and Unite are pleased to confirm that they have successfully concluded pay talks.’

Business Secretary Hutton yesterday claimed the deal reflected the ‘particular conditions’ in the fuel industry.

He made it clear that with the Shell strikes out of the way, the government was readying itself to take on other workers.

Hutton insisted: ‘There needs to be discipline in public and private sector pay if we are to keep inflation under control.’

Chancellor Darling also said the tanker drivers’ pay deal was due to ‘particular problems’ confined to their dispute.

He claimed: ‘Settlements overall over the last 12 months are around 3.5% which is consistent with our inflation target.’

It emerged yesterday that the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee had considered putting up interest rates at its June meeting to ‘cool’ the economy in the face of rising inflation.

When the official inflation figures were published earlier this week, Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned that rising food and energy prices could push the government-preferred consumer price index (CPI) inflation above 4% this year.

King added in the letter he was obliged to write to chancellor Darling: ‘It is crucial that prices other than those of commodities, energy and imports do not start to rise at a faster rate.

‘That would happen if those making decisions about prices and pay began to expect higher inflation in the future and acted on that.

‘It could also happen if employees respond to the loss of real spending power that results from higher commodity prices by bidding for more substantial pay increases.’