Independent retailers operating under the Jet fascia are struggling to source fuel because of a long-running strike by tanker drivers over pay and conditions.
Indies contacted The Grocer claiming they had been forced to source their fuel from elsewhere to avoid running out of petrol and diesel.
“It’s been a real strain,” said one indie. “We’ve been getting our fuel from a third party and although we’re getting it at a reasonable rate, we’ve got no credit terms with them. It’s a worry.”
Another retailer claimed he was having to pay 5p per litre over normal rates to get a third party to deliver to his site.
Tanker drivers at Wincanton, who deliver fuel to 381 Jet-branded forecourts, carried out strike action from 24 January to 31 January in a dispute over pay and conditions. A second wave started on 3 February and was due to run until 9 February after talks broke down. As The Grocer went to press, further action was planned from 9 February to 16 February.
“Wincanton’s failure to offer highly skilled drivers security means supply is again under threat,” said Matt Draper, Unite national officer.
Wincanton, however, said it “could not understand why the strike was happening”.
“We started exploratory discussions in June 2011 to establish how we could move to more flexible terms and conditions,” said Chris Kingshott, MD of manufacturing at Wincanton. “These discussions were derailed by Unite, who forced a ballot for industrial action. This irresponsible action could jeopardise the security of the contract and, ultimately, jobs of drivers.”
In a letter to retailers, Stefan Wulkan, manager of UK & Ireland marketing for Jet owner ConocoPhillips said: “We are not directly involved, but our aspiration is that this dispute is resolved as quickly as possible.”