The decision follows an emergency meeting chaired by energy secretary Ed Davey, the seven hauliers involved in the industrial dispute and the defence and transport secretaries.

A DECC spokesperson said that the meeting was “productive”, adding that “there is no strike at the moment, and we are calling for a swift resolution to this industrial dispute”.

As a result of the meeting, both parties agreed to meet with Acas for talks next Monday in a bid to resolve the dispute, which revolves around a number of issues, including health and safety, independently accredited training, portable sector pensions, minimum working standards and equal opportunities among others.

Unite, however, warned that should talks “breakdown” that it would be using its right to call for strike action.

Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through Acas. We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter should those talks breakdown.

“It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry. There have been minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry since 2000 covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.”

She added that it is “not a political dispute” but an industrial dispute and called for the Government to “set aside its political objectives and work with us, the employers, retailers and oil companies to achieve an outcome that is good for the industry and the country”.

If Unite decide to press ahead with proposed strike plans it would be required to give seven days prior notice.

Carys Matthews

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