Unite condemns callous sacking of tanker drivers as national strike ballot announced

2 Mar
For immediate issue: Thursday, 1 March 2012
The country’s biggest union, Unite, has condemned transport specialist, Norbert Dentressangle, for the callous and irresponsible sacking of six petrol tanker drivers on the day national strike ballot of drivers is announced.
The six, who work out of Grangemouth in Scotland, delivering fuel to Tesco supermarket forecourts, were told on Tuesday (28 February) that their jobs no longer existed – only to be told moments later to get on with the job. The union is extremely concerned that the six were pressurised into driving tankers full of fuel while in a distressed state.
The sackings took place on the day Unite announced its national ballot for strike action across the fuel delivery sector. Unite suspects that the timing of the sacking was deliberate and that the drivers, who have more than 60 years of experience between them, have been targeted because they are members of a trade union. The six drivers are the only union members working for Norbert Dentressangle on the Tesco contract in Scotland who will be balloted for strike action
In a letter to the company’s managing director, (Thursday,1 March), the union questions the rationale for the sackings.  It says that given the volume of work and widespread use of agency drivers by Norbert Dentressangle at Grangemouth, there is no commercial need for making redundancies.
The blow was delivered as the six drivers turned up for their 12 hour shift at 2.30pm. One distraught driver had his request to be excused from his shift rejected and was forced to get behind the wheel of a 44 tonnes tanker in a distressed state.
Matt Draper, Unite national officer said: “This is a disgraceful act by Norbert Dentressangle (ND).  It is callous to tell workers their jobs have been axed and then in the same breath tell the workers to get on with the job.
“Why on earth would an employer think this is a responsible act?  These workers are driving tankers full of fuel on public highways. They need to be entirely clear in their mind when they hit the road.
“ND claims that the work can be absorbed elsewhere, yet we know that there is more than enough work out of Grangemouth. The drivers have been working long hours with no let up to get the petrol out to Tesco’s forecourts.
“We urge the company to step back from this and see sense because ND’s action will further infuriate drivers already angry with the increasing pressure being heaped on them.”
Unite, which announced that it will begin balloting more than 2,000 oil tanker drivers for strike action next week, has warned for many months of similar attacks on drivers’ jobs. This has led to growing insecurity over terms and conditions as contracts chop and change.
For more information, please contact Chantal Chegrinec, Unite campaigns officer, on 07774 146 777 or 0203 371 2063

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