Unite the union has now warned Hoyer UK, which delivers commercial and aviation fuel around the country, to withdraw the threat of redundancy against these drivers or they will face a legal challenge.
Hoyer stated its UK aviation volumes have decreased massively to pre-COVID levels, forcing it to make some tough decisions over employment numbers.
Despite these claims by the firm the union believes the redundancies are not genuine and are actually part of a scheme to alter terms and conditions of workers.
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Unite describes Hoyers UK’s actions as reckless and unlikely to result in good industrial relations going forward when the demand for aviation and commercial fuel is set to increase as rules are relaxed.
Lyn Turner, Unite regional officer, said: “The redundancy consultation, if that’s what the company want to call it, has been a total sham. How Hoyer think they can get away with this is beyond me.
“If the company want to avoid industrial unrest leading to potential dispute then they are going about it the wrong way. This has nothing to do with COVID-19 and everything to do with attacking our member’s wages, terms and conditions and a drive to the bottom, which we will fight.”
The union and workers say Hoyer has manipulated the COVID-19 crisis to its own advantage.
Workers warn something must be done now to stop the eradication of the terms and conditions tanker drivers have fought hard for over past years.
One of the drivers at the centre of the situation said: “Right now we are at a critical point, and there is a very real threat to people's jobs and livelihoods. Fuel hauliers are using the worldwide pandemic to flex their muscles and to execute plans to make drivers redundant, when there is no proof this needs to be done.
“Right now, myself and the other drivers have the threat of redundancy hanging over our heads – we have managed to stave this threat off until September. But, we all know companies can change their minds.
“There is a very real threat that a strike or even a mass walk out is on the cards on the back of this. Good terms and conditions are being eradicated by these companies now, and in Grangemouth we have had enough.”
A spokesperson for Hoyer UK said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic some of Hoyer’s UK aviation volumes have reduced by up to 98 per cent compared to pre-COVID levels.
“As a responsible employer we have made the support of our employees during these challenging and unprecedented times an absolute priority. We have, for example, proactively topped up the pay of all employees who have been compulsory furloughed from the 80 per cent offered under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 100 per cent of their basic pay.
“However, the short and medium term future of the aviation fuels market remains highly uncertain with volumes significantly lower than pre-COVID levels and are not expected to return even close to those levels for some time to come.
“As a result we have had to take the exceptionally difficult decision of making a small number of our employees redundant. Despite this, we remain in continuous dialogue with all our employees and Unite to mitigate as many redundancies as possible against a highly uncertain economic backdrop.”