Army training to deliver fuel in case of strike action
Army drivers are being trained to deliver fuel to petrol stations in case of a possible strike by tanker drivers. The Unite union is balloting on industrial action, saying there have been "unrelenting attacks" on drivers' terms and conditions. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the government had "learnt the lessons" of the past and stood "ready to act" in case of a walkout. Unite said the government should be putting pressure on oil companies. Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said: "For over a year we've been desperately trying to bring about some stability in the sector and urging government ministers to persuade contractors and oil companies to engage in meaningful discussions with us.
"Unfortunately it's proving difficult to get them to respond. That leads to frustration as workers feel that no one is listening to them."
The vote closes on Monday and any agreed strike could be held next month.
This means any industrial action could possibly be over the Easter weekend.
Mr McCluskey said a positive result was expected on the ballot.
"We'll need to analyse the turnout and feeling of members before deciding whether to take any industrial action, but we always hope that negotiations can resolve the situation," he added.
The 2,000 drivers being balloted account for 90% of those supplying petrol to UK forecourts.
Ministers say the training of army drivers will begin next week as part of contingency plans being drawn up to avoid major disruption to fuel supplies. Call for agreementMr Maude said the government had learnt lessons from the fuel blockades of 2000 - which caused chaos and almost brought the country to a standstill.
"We are calling on the trade union Unite and the employers involved to work together to reach an agreement that will avert industrial action," he said.
We had it already in France : i remember during my national service in 1996 when i was put on support duty during one of those strikes in the case of military involvment to remove barrages and/or move tank trucks (which fortunately didn't occured to such an extend they had to call back draftees like me).
I also remember the words of my Adjudant-Chef : "if you go there keep your helmet tightly on your head. Truck drivers like to throw their missiles (bricks, metal balls, ball bearing, stones) low"