NEARLY 50 tanker drivers have gone on 24-hour strike in support of a sacked worker.
Staff at Wincanton, who deliver fuel for BP Castrol, formed a picket line from midnight outside the Bridges Road site in Ellesmere Port.
The official strike action, which will bring the distribution of famous brands such as GTX and Magnatec to a halt nationwide, is being held in support of a colleague dismissed for alleged use of a hand held mobile phone while driving a forty-tonne articulated vehicle.
The 46 drivers, who are all members of Unite and based at two sites in Ellesmere Port and Hyde, voted by an overwhelming majority to take action.
They supply oil to eight locations across the UK and deliver to shipping, power stations, garages, bus and train depots.
One worker, who does not wish to be named, told the Pioneer: “We held a ballot and 88% were in favour of official strike action. We’re right behind him.”
The alleged incident took place at the plant in March this year.
Since then the drivers and their union have been pressing the company to either take the appropriate disciplinary procedures or come clean about the real reason why their colleague has been dismissed.
According to Unite officer Tommy Kirwan, workers are concerned that there could be an ulterior motive for the dismissal
He said: “We all agree that safety at work is paramount and if colleagues put this at risk then they should face the consequences.
“However, we are very concerned about what we perceive as a change in culture from one of help and support to one of blame and dismiss.
“Unite does not accept that there is any substance whatsoever in the allegations made against this colleague.
“In fact, we question absolutely the physical possibility of either this worker using his mobile while driving or being seen using the mobile while driving and, as his phone records show, no calls were made or received on that day.”
Further action is planned over the coming weeks, including one on October 30, after talks at ACAS to resolve the dispute failed to reach any agreement.