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Whats Happened?

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A walkout has been voted upon by a majority of the members of Unite due to year-long disputes in the standards in training and safety. Members of the trade union in five out of seven companies voted for a fuel strike, which can possibly cripple the fuel supply of 90 percent of UK’s petrol stations.

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The Background

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For over a year now, the members of the trade union Unite had been initiating talks with the oil companies, negotiating the standards in training and safety of its members through forums and standard meetings. They also wished to improve the system surrounding its members, as some are reported to have had several changes in employers within a year and their pension schemes swapped for money purchase schemes.

 

But after around seven meetings over the entire year and still no progress was made to improve minimum standards, the union decided to send out ballot papers to its members for a vote. Over 61.1 percent of the members within the seven companies voted to strike.

 

Of the seven companies, five of these gave the ballot to move to execute the strike: Turners, Norbert Dentressangle, Wincaton, BP and Hoyer; the remaining two, DHL and Suckling, voted against strike action.

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What Does It Mean?

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The Union estimates that the petrol stocks will be depleted within 48 hours of the fuel strike and because of this, even though the date of the strike hasn’t been set, the ministers have already cautioned the general public to store fuel – either by topping their tanks or by storing fuel in jerry cans. This, however, sent mixed messages to the masses, and later, it led to stations running low on fuel due to panic-buying and stockpiling. The Fire Brigades Union criticized Francis Maude and urged him to withdraw his comments on storing petrol in jerry cans because storing fuel in jerry cans at home can be extremely dangerous.

 

Unite also noted the importance of the oil supply chain, because when fuel distribution to the forecourts is halted, the fuel has to be stored in refineries until such time it will be distributed, and if the strikes would last for more than three to four days, the storage capacity of the refineries would reach its peak and this may force the oil rigs to stop drilling for oil.

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How Will This Effect You?

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One of the effects that the people may directly feel during a fuel strike will be the upward surge of prices of commodities. This is primarily because most of the products being sold in UK are transported via roads, and therefore the need for fuel existed. Due to demand, price of fuel may increase, and this may lead to the increase in the costs of commodities which are transported by road.

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What Is Being Done?

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The government also placed down contingency plans to ensure that if a strike occurs, the economy won’t suffer and the country wouldn’t have to go to the same experience they had during the September fuel protests way back in the year 2000. Their contingency plans consists of training military personnel and have them on standby during the strike and if needed, replace the drivers on strike in order to deliver the needed stocks.

Another way to curb this situation is for the government to urge the oil companies to sit down with the trade union and discuss the terms the members of the union have already pointed out. Conciliation services have suggested that the oil companies and the members of the trade union seek what they call “negotiated settlement”.

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What People Are Saying?

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Forums online have mixed reactions to the upcoming fuel strike. Some in one forum agreed with the strike and also gave suggestions such as finding drivers to replace those on strike. In another forum, some are confused and wondered whether they should follow the government’s advice to stockpile and the thread continued with those who mentioned that this may be a political problem. Another forum reveals that an online shop has been selling jerry cans and also, like the previous forum, the strike could be political in nature rather than what was said by the trade union Unite. Panic-buying, mentioned by an individual in the forum, wouldn’t be helpful and so is stockpiling – which is by topping tanks and also storing 20-litre jerry cans full of petrol at home.

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Have Your Say

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