By: Anna Redman
The Unite Union has decided against a possible fuel strike over Easter. However, a strike may still occur after Easter depending on the results of reconciliation talks.
The government caused panic buying when they advised drivers to fill up their tanks. Independent experts suggest petrol demands rose 172% yesterday.
In a statement, assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter should those talks break down.”
Approximately 90% of UK forecourts are supplied by Unite union. Almost 2,000 members are at the centre of this dispute.
Unite’s drivers are responsible for delivering fuel to Shell and Esso garages as well as a number of supermarkets.
On Thursday, Energy Secretary Ed Davey advised that people “just need to do the sensible thing… get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank”.
Unite’s national officer Matt Draper said: “The professionalism of tanker drivers is at stake. We should not accept a lowering of standards so that the oil companies can maximise their profits.
“Four of the top global oil companies posted combined profits of a staggering £106 billion in 2011. Yet, drivers are suffering a contract merry-go-round, with their working conditions under constant attack.”
There are growing fears we could see a repeat of the September 2000 strikes which brought fuel shortages across the country. Due to the adverse effect a strike could have, the government has already arranged a contingency measure by enlisting army personnel to drive tankers if the protest goes ahead. It is hoped this will minimalise shortages and stop the country coming to a standstill.
Limited reserve stocks have been highlighted as an additional concern; due to the high price of fuel many petrol stations have stopped storing high quantities in reserve. This means that any reduction in deliveries will have an immediate impact on the availability of fuel.
Last week George Osbourne increased fuel duty as part of the budget, taking the cost of petrol to an average of £1.40 per litre, with a record high of £1.46.72/l recorded by the AA.
The latest price hike comes shortly after the announcement to raise the road tax bandings, with the top band range now costing over £1000 per annum. Drivers groups have long complained about the way motorists are overcharged for every aspect of owning a vehicle.
The result of the ballot will be announced later today.
Average prices per litre of unleaded petrol in the UK from 2007 to June 2011:
The percentage of the fuel cost which is attributed to tax is often criticised by consumer groups. Currently UK tax on fuel amounts to 70% of the pump price.
Cost per litre of crude oil extraction: 8p
Cost per litre of refining: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to UK: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to pumps: 5p
Soaring oil prices have led to petrol prices hitting record highs in the UK.
Motorists must now shell out 140.20p for a litre of petrol.
No respite awaits car owners across the country experts suggest the average petrol price to rise to 150p very soon.
Chancellor George Osborne has promised that petrol prices would not suffer undue hikes so long as oil prices are kept under 45 pounds per barrel. With Iran’s monopoly over oil threatening to expand throughout the EU, patrons are very cautious about their time on the road.
by Tony Gougeon
France has been facing one of its most important strike waves this year after the recent announcement of a new pension reform made by President Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of the summer, wishing to push the legal retiring age from 60 to 62.
What seemed to be a usual striking opportunity for French people began to get out of control recently when petrol industries joined the movement, forcing the government to put drastic measures into place and restricting petrol supplies.
Now that the reform has been voted by Parliament, the government expects the situation to get back to normal as soon as possible, Jean Louis Borloo (minister of Ecology and Energy) announcing live on television last night that “95% of the petrol stations have been provided with fuel”. However, protests are still taking place everywhere in the country at high schools, universities, post offices and several other sectors, and people are still expected to be in the streets this Saturday.
Most petrol stations have been forced to shut for a few days, expecting to be delivered soon and encountering a loss of over 100 million euro for the main oil refinery Total, according to its financial director Patrick de la Chevardiere.
However, every time one of them can open again customers have to queue for hours, where they will only be able to purchase up to €21, or be told the station has run out of petrol already. The last weekend of October being a popular holiday for French people, petrol was still rare and the restrictions not lifted.
Some people claim it is still time to fight back: Henriette Minard, 72 and retired, is still calling for people to protest. “The pension reform was the spark the movement needed,” she says. “It is particularly unfair to the previous and next generations: people have been fighting and are still fighting to make their lives more enjoyable. The senate voting the reform last week is not a death sentence to the movement.”
On the other side, some people are starting to get tired of the process: Mai-anh Peterson, a British student sent from Edinburgh to study in Montpelier as part of the Erasmus exchange program says: “This is taking it too far. When it starts to affect people’s everyday lives in such a drastic manner it makes it hard to see what the point is. Retirement ages are increasing all over the world, France should it count itself lucky – it still has the lowest retirement age in Europe. If it’s not economically viable for the government to back down on its proposal, then all I can foresee is a complete standstill.”
Her university, along with numerous others across the country, have been forced to interrupt their normal agenda because students have been blocking access into the buildings, which is the answer students have used for decades now. However, with exams coming up, the movement is losing strength as more and more students are getting worried about their grades.
By Rebecca Gray
Police are launching an operation to crack down on fuel theft from petrol stations across the Greater Glasgow region.
Officers from the Strathclyde police force will be taking part in the ForeCourt Watch Scheme, which will target those people who drive off without paying for their fuel, and use service stations as a route to commit more serious crimes.
Using a ‘ring-round’ system, Forecourt Watch will provide local petrol retailers with an early warning of any crimes being committed on service stations in their area, together with details of the suspects
and their vehicles.
They will be using a variety of tactics such as high-visibility patrols and plain vehicle patrols.
This system enables staff to be alert in case a car comes onto their forecourt to fill up the next time. When a service station suffers a drive-off, staff should then report it to the police. The scheme will also provide the police with information about suspect vehicles and general intelligence.
Superintendent Michelle Martin, Sub Divisional Officer based at Shettleston Police Office, commented:
“Over the last year we have seen a significant increase in the number of thefts from forecourts and we are proactively working together to a put a stop to this.”
“I would ask other motorists for help to catch these people who ‘drive off’ without paying. I am confident with their help and this new scheme we will make a difference and put a stop to fuel thefts in this area”.
Officers will also be using ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) to target stolen vehicles, vehicles without valid documentation and those with stolen registration plates.
ANPR operations involve officers using a sophisticated camera system to automatically capture the registration numbers of vehicles. The software reads the recognition and compares it against a variety of police databases.
David Miller, Manager of Silverburn Petrol Station, said: “I think this scheme will go a long way in fighting the current spate of drive-offs in the area. The new approach of working with other petrol stations may be the change we need to beat this problem.”
There are over thirty petrol stations in the Greater Glasgow area and all of them have suffered theft of fuel in the last 18 months.
Superintendent Michelle Martin added: “Some vehicles used in the initial theft of fuel are then used in more serious crimes. If we can establish that you have used your vehicle while committing an offence we can seize that vehicle and take action thorough the courts.”