Six fuel delivery operators face further talks at Acas after tanker drivers represented by union Unite rejected proposals regarding employment security.

The union, which represents some 1,200 tanker drivers will now seek further talks with DHL, BP, Wincanton, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners (Soham) and Hoyer.

Delegates at the union say that while progress had been made on health, safety and training, proposals on maintaining standards, security of employment and sub-contracting did not give Unite confidence that the problems they describe as “gripping the industry” would be addressed.

FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier says in response to the threat of strike action by Unite members: “FTA members are very clear where they stand: any disruption of fuel supplies will put intolerable pressure on businesses at a critical time in the economic recovery as they would simply be unable to trade normally.”

Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, attacked operators in the sector after six days of conciliatory talks.

"For too long operators have presided over under-cutting and the erosion of standards, “ she says.

“This is simply not sustainable, and it is beholden on all parties to work together to establish a meaningful set of minimum standards that brings order to a chaotic industry.

“While there has been some progress it is clear that our members need more guarantees and assurance from the employers about their commitment to meaningful minimum standards. We will be going back to the employers in a bid to reach a negotiated settlement.”

Peter Harwood, Acas chief conciliator, adds: "Naturally, we are disappointed at the outcome, following the parties' intensive talks at Acas over the last two weeks. We are contacting the parties and the challenge now is to see if we can find a way forward."