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U.K. Fuel-Tanker Drivers ‘Keen’ for Talks; No Strike Dates Set

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Fuel-tanker drivers in the U.K., locked in a dispute over working conditions, are open to talks and haven’t decided on dates for a strike, a labor union said.

“We’re keen to start negotiations with the companies,” Alex Flynn, a spokesman for Unite, the country’s biggest trade union, said today by telephone from London. The workers deliver fuel to gasoline stations run by companies including BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Tesco Plc.

Unite is seeking minimum standards for fuel distributors over pensions, training, health and safety, pay and hours. The union has asked the government to intervene to avoid industrial action, it said yesterday in a website statement. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, or Acas, is now mediating.

“We are in urgent discussions with the parties involved on an individual basis,” Clare Carter, a spokeswoman for Acas, said today in an e-mail. “It is normal for us to do this to establish the format for talks.”

About 2,000 drivers would join a strike, a union official said on March 26. Prime Minister David Cameron said today there was “absolutely no justification” for the proposed stoppage. He called on unions and employers to “sit down and discuss these issues” and said the government is putting contingency plans in place, including training soldiers to replace strikers.

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the government’s “Cobra” emergency committee today to discuss contingency planning, he told reporters in London. A strike could affect supplies to 90 percent of Britain’s 8,706 fuel-station forecourts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at nbakhsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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