Safeway stockpiles fuel to ensure key staff can work

An emergency scheme spearheaded by supermarket giant Safeway’s HR department will allow key employees to continue working in the event of another petrol crisis.

Safeway HR controller Maureen Hooper told Personnel Today the company was stockpiling leaded petrol for its employees in case lorry drivers repeat their blockade of depots in protest at fuel prices.

Hooper led a specially convened fuel crisis committee to allow the company to continue running smoothly during the action in September.

The committee ensured staff identified as critical to the business could commute to work and encouraged employees to use public transport where possible by giving them special payments.

After the crisis abated, the committee conducted a review and continued to meet to discuss what to do should lorry drivers and farmers go through with their threats, after the Chancellor Gordon Brown announces his pre-budget this week.

Now, the committee, which reports to HR director Jim White, is ready to swing into action to distribute leaded fuel to key staff in the event of further trouble.

Hooper said, "The events actually contributed to our culture, which is all about teamwork and focusing on our customers.

"Many staff live near the stores and did not have trouble getting in, but the real problem was for people who work at our head of office in Hayes, Middlesex. We had to make sure they were rewarded for struggling in against all the odds and helping to keep things running.

"Another crucial part was communication and keeping people up to date with the situation."

Asda and Waitrose are also preparing for further action from the fuel demonstrators, but would not reveal their contingency plans.

By Richard Staines

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