MOTORISTS were today warned of possible fuel shortages as striking tanker drivers were poised to halt the delivery of petrol to BP forecourts across Scotland.
Tanker drivers at the Grangemouth oil refinery voted for a walkout beginning at 4am on Friday and ending at 8am on Monday in a dispute over cuts to their pay and pensions.
On returning to work after the weekend they have also voted for a continuous ban on overtime. Unite, the union representing the workers, warned industrial action would “severely impact” aviation supplies and deliveries to BP forecourts across Scotland and the north-east of England.
Nine out of ten of the 42 tanker drivers balloted voted for strike action.
They are angry at changes to their pension rights and the loss of a company share scheme as a result of the imminent aviation contract transfer from BP to another firm.
Unite regional industrial officer Tony Trench said: “It’s an outrage that BP, a multinational giant which earns billions every year, is exploiting the UK’s weak employment laws to effectively swindle workers out of their retirement savings and future earnings.
“Last year, BP chief executive Bob Dudley was awarded a bonus of £2.6 million.
“This year, one-third of workers on the aviation contract at Grangemouth could lose up to £13,000 a year from their pension on retirement and two-thirds upwards of £1400 a year from their basic earnings due to the loss of the BP share-match scheme.
“It’s the same old story of fat-cat executives dictating a race to the bottom on workers’ terms and conditions while their own snouts are stuck firmly in the trough.
“There is still time to avoid a strike – one that will cause significant disruptions to Scotland’s transport infrastructure – if BP comes to its senses and protects the workers ahead of their transfer.”
Although legislation protects employees’ pay and conditions if they are transferred by their employer to a new company, their pensions are not protected.
The latest dispute comes less than a year after a strike by tanker drivers was narrowly averted after they voted narrowly to accept a peace deal aimed at ending a long-running row over terms and conditions.
Motorists were warned against panic buying at petrol forecourts amid fears that supplies could run dry.
A BP spokesman said “Our priority remains the safe delivery of fuel products to all our customers.
‘We have been working to, and continue to work to minimise any potential disruption the industrial action planned for this weekend at Grangemouth could cause.’