Unite union set to strike

The UK’s largest union is balloting its members to determine whether strike action will be used in the dispute over working conditions of delivery drivers in the oil sector.

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

Rugby legend donates brain to science

Scottish rugby star John Beattie has announced he intends to donate his brain to science after he dies. The revelation follows a recent study which suggests that rugby players are at risk of similar long term brain injuries to those sustained by boxers. His brain will be used in a neuroscience study to determine the effect of regular head impacts on the condition of the brain. Over the next few months he will undergo a series of tests and scans which will be followed by an autopsy when he dies. This should give an accurate indication of the level of damage which has been incurred during a rugby players career.

Podcast: new book sheds light on Lockerbie bombing

A new book, written by a member of Al Megrahi’s Defence team calls into question several key details of the Lockerbie Bombing case. Pete Swift explains the repercussion of the latest revelation.

Also see:

Claims MacAskill urged Lockerbie bomber to drop appeal

Lockerbie Timeline

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