What do we want? Better facilities for trade unions!

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Union agitatorsPeople are panic buying fuel because tanker drivers said they might want to go on strike and because a couple of idiot British government ministers told people first to stockpile fuel at home in jerry cans (which is illegal) and then not to stockpile in jerry cans but to just buy double what you normally would.  Cretins.

So what’s are the tanker drivers complaining about?  Let’s look at the list of demands sent to the British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, by the Unite union.  They are demanding minimum standards in …

Health & safety procedures, practices and processes.  Seems fair enough to me if there is a shortfall in what is legally required.  Is there?  A quick Google search to try and find out how many tanker drivers have been killed in the UK returned only one relevant result which was an undated Daily Mail article about a tanker driver crashing off a motorway bridge.  But who knows?  There might be lots of unreported incidents so yep, let’s have a minimum standard of safety for drivers.

Independently accredited training.  Not quite sure what this would achieve to be honest.  Does it matter whether the person telling you how to drive a tanker safely or how to load and unload your truck works for your employer or another company?  Obviously it matters to your employer because paying someone else to do what you can do yourself will cost money but will it actually give the driver anything they haven’t already got except for, perhaps, a qualification they can use to get a job at another company to avoid having to do the training again?

Portable sector pensions.  Is there such a thing outside of the civil service?  This is a company pension that you could transfer from company to company as you move around employers thanks to the aforementioned “independently accredited training” without losing benefits or contributions.  Good for the drivers but not good for employers who will have their hands tied when it comes to offering benefits to employees.

Rates of pay, hours of work and working/holiday/sickness/redundancy arrangements.  Hold on a minute.  There’s a minimum wage, a legal limit on the number of hours you can work, a legal right to holidays, a legal right to sick pay and many, many laws around redundancy.  Do tanker drivers need more rights than they and the rest of the population already have?  Do we really need a separate minimum wage for tanker drivers?  Who’s next?  Who will decide what an acceptable rate of pay is for each job?

Equal opportunities.  A quick Google search for information about racism in the tanker drive industry returned only one apparently relevant result which was for a recent blog entry on Liberal Conspiracy that has been taken down shortly after publication.  A search for plain old discrimination in the industry returned nothing of relevance.  That doesn’t mean that there is no discrimination in the industry of course but equal opportunities is something that should be a given.  I’m not sure tanker drivers need any more protection than the law already affords to them and everyone else in the country though.

Grievance and disciplinary procedures.  Again, there are many laws around grievance and disciplinary procedures and everyone has the right to independent representation and the use of a conciliation such as ACAS to resolve disputes.  Do tanker drivers need more rights than they and the rest of us already have?

Trade union facilities.  And there we have the real motivation behind the threat of strikes and list of demands.  How many tanker drivers are genuinely demanding better facilities for trade unions at the expense of their employers?  “Facilities” presumably includes more pilgrims – union officials paid by their employer to work for their union rather than do the job they were employed for – which is more about saving the unions money than bettering the rights of workers.

These threatened strikes are part of the unions’ war against non-Labour government.  They were behind the student protests, they’re behind the “anti-cuts” protests and they’re behind this one.  They are open about their motivation: they want the Tories out and their Labour poodles back in.

I hope the union agitators are prosecuted under the “anti-terrorism” laws their Labour government brought in and sacked.


  1. Stan (222 comments) says:

    First off, any union worth it’s salt should be trying to get the best conditions for it’s members, that’s what they are for.

    Health & safety procedures, practices and processes – Try googling “Jack-knife” or “shed it’s load”. Also it’s usually not the lorry drivers themselves that get hurt. A lorry is a big old lump of metal, it’s usually pedestrians and drivers of smaller vehicles that get killed.

    Independently accredited training – Well I can’t speak for lorry drivers but I know that in my civil service days, in-house training officers were the supervisors that were too crap to let loose on the public but couldn’t be sacked or were to too incompetent to be promoted out of harms way.

    Portable sector pensions – Rates of pay, hours of work and working/holiday/sickness/redundancy arrangements – All these things are being eroded away and many of the benefits that we are losing in this country are ones which aren’t noticed until we need them. Again any union worth it’s salt should be trying to get what it can for it’s members. My better half works for a local law centre and already she is seeing people in dire straits over changes in pension, sickness and redundancy changes.

    Equal opportunities – For lorry drivers I think it’s more about age rather than race. My better half’s uncle used to work for a haulage company until he retired at the maximum age possible. For a couple of years afterwards the company would get him to come back a couple of times a week for jobs. As he wasn’t under a formal contract he wasn’t entitled to many of the benefits or rights he was before.

    Grievance and disciplinary procedures – Don’t really know enough about this to comment.

    Trade union facilities – I don’t know about lorry drivers, but in my civil service days most of our meetings involving industrial action had to take place in the car park.

    “These threatened strikes are part of the unions’ war against non-Labour government. They were behind the student protests, they’re behind the “anti-cuts” protests and they’re behind this one”
    I think you’ll find that the students were behind the students protests – the clue is in the title.
    My dad is terminally ill and I spend most days watching him waste away while I do what I can. He doesn’t want to stay in a hospital ward as the last time he was in he was dropped twice by nurses on the night shift. He said he didn’t blame them as there were only 2 of them to watch 21 old and dying patients so they were rushed off of their feet. Already this year he has lost 2 of the health care people who came to visit him at home due to redundancy, and now we have heard that a third – a district nurse – has been made redundant. Last year his physiotherapy unit was closed. On top of this, due to cuts in funding, my better half will probably be losing her job early next year when the cash runs out.
    I’ve been on a couple of anti-cuts demos this year and I’m sure I’ll be going on several others too. I can assure you Mr Wonko, that it isn’t the unions who are behind me.

  2. steveshark (1 comments) says:

    There was a tanker driver on the Nolan phone-in on BBC Radio5 Live last night.

    He denied the proposed industrial action was about pay, although he persisted in stating that it was about getting rid of inequalities in pay. Indeed, it seemed to be all that he was bothered with.

    This seems to derive from the fact that the drivers are sub-contracted out to the oil distribution companies by a variety of firms with different rates of pay.

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