Anxious union leaders are so troubled over safety issues for tanker drivers they are prepared to put Britain back on the brink of a fuel strike if reform isn't made the top priority.
Conditions for drivers - who on average carry 36,000 to 42,000 litres of flammable liquid on board a tanker every time they make a journey - have been eroded for years.
And a crucial meeting of Unite's oil trades conference voted overwhelmingly on Friday to recommend rejection of proposals tabled after eight days of talks with oil bosses at conciliation service Acas.
The proposals will now be put to more than 2,000 tanker drivers across seven oil distribution firms in a consultative ballot.
Delegates said they recognised progress had been made on health, safety and training issues.
But the union expressed "deep concern" that proposals did not go far enough in bringing stability and security to the sector through industry minimum standards.
"Delegates expressed disappointment at the employers' failure to give sufficient guarantees on maintaining standards, security of employment, pensions and subcontracting," a spokesperson said.
The news came as ballot papers were sent out to over 530 tanker drivers working for oil distribution firm Hoyer.
Unite is re-balloting following concerns that some members did not receive voting papers in the original ballot. However, the consultative ballot is expected to close on May 11.
Unite represents 2,062 tanker drivers, covering 90 per cent of supplies to forecourts.
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: "The proposals represent progress on some of the key areas such as health and safety.
"But it is clear that they do not give enough guarantees that the instability and insecurity gripping the industry will come to an end.
"It is in everyone's interest that we end the contract merry-go-round and the erosion of standards in a vital industry.
"Delegates felt the proposals did not meet members' expectations and are recommending that members reject them in the consultative ballot."
Members delivering fuel for Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, Norbert Dentressangle, Turners and Suckling will be taking part in the ballot.
Acas chief conciliator Peter Harwood said the industrial action mandate has been extended to May 21. Unite would have to give seven days' notice of any walkouts.
As negotiations drag on the government is continuing to train hundreds of army drivers to act as scabs if a strike goes ahead. Prime Minister David Cameron has bragged that at least 60 per cent of the nation's fuel supplies could be delivered.
A Department of Energy spokesman said the government "continues to believe that strike action would be wrong and unnecessary."
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