Britain’s motorists breathed a collective sigh of relief after union Unite issued a statement confirming that they will instead focus on substantive talks to establish minimum standards in the fuel oil distribution industry rather than engage in industrial action.
The union insists that its demands for standards to be introduced for portable sector pensions, independently accredited training, and health and safety were not unreasonable and in line with standards already in place elsewhere in the oil industry.
“We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through ACAS [employment rights and conciliation service],” said Diana Holland, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary.
She warned that strike action could still be a possibility if talks broke down and that the dispute was not political but industrial.
“The Government's recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement. [It] must set aside its political objectives and work with us, the employers, retailers and oil companies to achieve an outcome that is good for the industry and the country.
“It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry. There have been minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry since 2000 covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.”
Unite is keen to get the talks under way as soon as possible but it is understood that they will not take place before Easter.
The bedlam served a stern warning for how an actual strike would play out.
Motorists were warned over the storage of petrol after one minister advised motorists to store “maybe a little bit in the garage in a jerrycan”.
Sadly there has been at least one casualty linked to the mayhem after a York woman suffered 40% burns whilst decanting fuel in her kitchen last night.
A fire service spokesman explained: “Her daughter asked her mum for petrol because she had run out. The cooker was on and the fumes ignited.”
North Yorkshire Fire Service has since reiterated the dangers of storing petrol at home.
It said: “Fuel should be stored away from the house in either a shed or a garage, well away from people and anywhere where it might be close to a naked flame or other source of ignition.”