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Tanker Drivers Dispute

Posted by Micha Jazz on 18 April 2012 | 0 Comments


The thought of the panic buying of petrol returning to UK forecourts is not a pleasant prospect. Today will determine if the Tanker Drivers are prepared to accept the proposals drawn up between the Fuel Distributors and UNITE, courtsey of the shuffling, shuttle diplomacy of ACAS, our national Conciliation service.


Erroneously described within the press as mediation, this process really presents an authentic mediation process badly. Those of us offering mediation as the best way constructively and creatively to address serious disagreements between parties, despair of the image of two groups unable to sit together in the same room negotiating through a shuttling third party. Frankly is is the very worst model of mediation there can be.


The real magic of mediation is that parties who do not believe they can reach agreement through normal negotiation, agree to sit together facilitated by a skilled, trained and experienced mediator. It is important in any dispute that each party gets to say their piece. We all need to be heard! The speaking may carry intensity, yet this is no bad thing. It clears some of the negative energy that acts as a barrier to resolution to dissipate. Our commitment to political correctness may have serioulsy disadvantaged our appreciation of the need to vent. This is as natural to the human condition as is the body's need to pass waste product to retain health!

Venting is described by the Urban Dictionary as allowing, '...a person to rationalize and validate their own fears, concerns ,worries, dreams and hopes. If we are not allowed to vent , we end up bottling up our emotions which is detrimental to the human psyche.' Now that doesn't sound anything but healthy. Perhaps venting is one of our psychological "5-a-day"!


The ongoing refusal to encourage people in dispute - relationally, commercially, at work - simply to sit down and talk face to face in the presence of a skilled third party is simply a nonsense. Always some group of expensive professionals insisit they know the answer; a 'mother knows best' approach that is as patronising as it is irritating. Come on Cameron! If you and the coalition government are as hot on mediation as you claim then lets ensure the large numbers of skilled mediators who have been trained by CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) and others at great expense are accessed to the market.


Mediation offers simple transferable skills. Many great lawyers make bad mediators. Large numbers of mediators have no interest in becoming lawyers - that is because they are mediators! Whilst the misconception remains largely unchallenged that good mediation requires some form of legal background, the benefits mediation offers will only be available to those with deep enough pockets to pay the lawyers' ritzy rates. 

However, there are innumerable good quality mediators who have the skills and the experience, who work exclusively on mediation because that is what they want to do professionally and who charge rates that ensure mediation is available to all. 

There appears at times as if a cosy monopoly exists whenever it comes to accessing the mediation market. I have lost count of the number of CEDR trained mediators who are resentful that having paid large training fees they enjoy no prosepect of securing mediation work.


And we are one of those agencies that for over thirteen years has offered an excellent, professional service yet we feel discouraged at the time it is taking to fracture this marketplace monopoly and the extent therefore to which so many women and men in dispute are left with an unresolved situation because they lack the funds to pay for a lawyer.

I trust the Tanker Drivers sort things out today. I also hope in future real mediation can be offered at a far earlier stage and save us all a lot of anxiety and also the taxpayer a huge sum of money!