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Fuel Tanker Drivers Vote To Avert Strike

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- A threatened strike by fuel-tanker drivers has been avoided after members of the drivers' union voted to accept a deal offering common safety standards and training, as well as an accreditation scheme for drivers, a statement on the union's website said. The Unite union, which represents the drivers, said Friday that its members backed the deal by 51% overall, although drivers in four of the seven haulage companies it represents voted to reject it. The turnout for the vote was 69%, it said. Unite voted in March to take strike action if tanker companies didn't agree to requests about improved working conditions. The strike would have involved around 90% of drivers delivering fuel to U.K. gas stations for 11 oil companies and would have affected the fuel retail operations of J. Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN), Tesco PLC (TSCO.LN), Asda Group Ltd., a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), ExxonMobil's (XOM) Esso brand, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), the union said. The deal was reached after eight days of talks at the U.K. arbitration group Acas, Unite said. "This narrow vote in favor lifts the threat of strike action, but leaves the companies with no room for complacency," said Unite Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland. "The narrow vote in favor should be a 'wake-up' call for an industry riddled with deep-seated problems. This is why we are writing to the Energy and Climate Change select committee urging them to investigate the instability in the industry." The accepted proposals include the introduction of an industry-wide accreditation, or "passport," covering health and safety and training, said the union. Website: www.unitetheunion.org -London Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9320

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