Wincanton says it "regrets" Unite's call to members to reject proposals over tanker driver terms and conditions,  and is hopeful that its drivers will recognise the progress made during the past eight days of negotiations between fuel distribution firms and union chiefs by voting to end the long-running dispute.

The company says the new proposals are a positive step in bringing the wider industry up to the same high standards of training, health and safety provided by the six tanker firms involved in Acas-led conciliation talks: Hoyer, Norbert Dentressangle, BP, DHL, Wincanton and Turners (Soham).

A company statement says: “The three working parties that we have jointly developed will deliver higher governance by external bodies, such as the Health & Safety Executive, and will enable us to explore the development of a framework for our drivers to transfer their training and pensions, should their employment move to a different contractor. Their terms and conditions of employment are already protected under TUPE regulations.

It adds: “At the same time, the Industry Benchmarking Study that the employers have agreed to fund via the Incomes Data Service, will provide Unite with robust data on terms and conditions across the sector and a basis for meaningful discussions with those employers who do not currently offer fair rates of pay.”

Wincanton says it welcomes Unite’s decision to take the proposal to the entire balloted population, but regrets the union’s call for rejection before its members have had the opportunity to see it. The logistics firm adds that it is “only fair and reasonable” that its drivers are able to give the appropriate consideration to the proposal and hopes they will acknowledge the progress made.

In the meantime, Wincanton says it continues to work with the government, the MoD and its customers on contingency planning to minimise the “inevitable disruption Unite is aware a strike would cause”.