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Fuel tanker drivers reject deal

Fuel tanker drivers have rejected a proposed deal aimed at averting industrial action raising fresh threats of strikes which would cripple petrol supplies in Great Britain.

Around 60 Unite officials overwhelmingly turned down a deal which was thrashed out during six days of talks between the union and representatives of six fuel distribution companies.

The union urged motorists not to panic buy and stressed that it had not yet decided whether to name any strike dates.

Any strike is unlikely to have any real effect on Northern Ireland due to the tiny number of drivers involved here.

The union only has until Friday to call a strike and will have to give seven days notice of industrial action.

It is believed that progress was made on a number of issues including pensions, health and safety and training.

Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “While there has been some progress it is clear that our members need more guarantees and assurances from the employers about their commitment to meaningful minimum standards. We remain committed to achieving a negotiated settlement that brings stability and security to a vital industry and gives this workforce, and the public, confidence that the race to the bottom is ending.”

Unite officials have contacted the conciliation service Acas and said it hoped employers would agree to hold fresh talks in the coming days.

Peter Harwood, Acas chief conciliator, said: “Naturally, we are disappointed at today's outcome, following the parties' intensive talks at Acas over the last two weeks. The challenge now is to see if we can find a way forward.”

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