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TIL, Z Energy prepare for tanker driver strike

The country’s biggest fuel trucker says it is disappointed by a planned driver striker this month and will work to minimise any impact on supplies and motorists.

Pacific Fuel Haul, part of TIL Logistics, is the biggest mover of petrol, diesel, LPG, crude oil and condensate. Z Energy is one of its biggest customers.

First Union, which represents about two-thirds of Pacific’s drivers, has given formal notice of a five-day strike starting midnight Dec. 15.

Pacific Fuel Haul said it had been in talks with the union since Aug. 10 on a collective agreement, which included an “attractive” above-inflation increase. That was rejected on Friday, but the parties had agreed to proceed to mediation, it said.

“We were frustrated the union then chose to announce on Saturday, 1 December its notification of strike action,” chief executive Stephen Owles said.

“While we recognise the right of union members to strike, the length of the strike action - five days - is entirely inconsistent with the restraint shown by other essential sectors over recent months,” he said in a statement filed on NZX.

“We are concerned at the impact of the strike on New Zealanders just before Christmas. PFH will be working with other staff and drivers to minimise disruption and maintain supplies during the strike period.”

Z Energy, which operates the Z and Caltex fuel chains, said it will use the next two weeks to work with Pacific to minimise any disruption – should the strike proceed.

TIL shares last traded unchanged at $1.62. They are down about 19 percent this year.

Pacific Fuel Haul is one of the biggest arms of TIL and operates more than 200 tankers and 400 dangerous good vehicles. The group runs about 930 trucks and includes Roadstar, TNL and Hooker Pacific among its general freight operations.

Group chief executive Alan Pearson said the strike was not currently expected to have any material impact on the firm’s earnings.

In October TIL forecast a 20 percent increase in operating earnings for the year through June, driven by strong economic activity and acquisitions.

TIL said Pacific Fuel Haul has a history of paying some of the highest rates in the industry and year on year has provided pay increases at rates in excess of consumer price inflation. Most drivers are currently earning upwards of $100,000 per year, it said.

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