Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Stand, and Deliver the Fuel!

Shell tanker drivers are hell bent on holding the UK to ransom to squeeze a pay increase from their employers. Incenced and goaded by their union, Unite, they today failed to agree to a 6.8% pay rise that would put driver's on a basic pay of £39,000 per annum - before overtime.

We need tanker drivers. No one would deny them a decent wage. But consider, by way of comparison, what other trades and professions earn - take a look at the table for some typical examples:

Notice anything? If your work means you may get killed for your country, have to work long hours in a hospital mending people, meant you had to slave for years to earn professional qualifications or must work long or unsociable hours to cart drunks around on public transport then you must be feeling a bit of a mug right now. All along, if only you'd known, you could have been driving a Shell tanker and been quids in.

Now I am no defender of the oil companies and it certainly grates on my nerves when I am waiting for my £60 worth of diesel to fill my tiny tank, to think that Shell made $27 billion profit last year. And that was when crude was averaging $90 a barrel. I wouldn't be first in the queue of objectors if Darling levied a windfall tax on the likes of Shell, Total, BP and the other winners in this daft excuse for an oil market.

What I do object to is these already generously paid blue collar guys throwing their weight around at a time when they can cause the most disruption to motorists. Did I say motorists? Good heavens I sound like a Sun journalist. I mean citizens; just how many people do you know who don't drive a car, ride a bus or rely on the Tesco delivery man these days?

The opportunism of the tankermen and their shortsighted union backers is blatant. They know that no matter how much the oil companies and government implore people to be rational and not 'panic buy', that is precisely what they will do. As an industry spokeman made clear this morning, to the individual it is perfectly rational to buy fuel if you think it won't be available and you have to drive to work, take your old mother to the hospital or get the groceries.

So the arrogance of this union-backed action is of real annoyance to me and I have no doubt millions of others who will be caught up in their squabble.

If these guys are worth more, let them seek it else where.

Apparently they are short of people to drive tanks and tankers in Afghanistan. But they'd have to take a pay cut - so best to sit back, have a cuppa and cripple the economy instead.

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