The Petroleum Driver Passport scheme: a case study in reregulation

Published date01 May 2017
AuthorEdmund Heery,Marco Hauptmeier,Leon Gooberman
Date01 May 2017
The Petroleum Driver Passport scheme: a
case study in reregulation
Edmund Heery, Leon Gooberman and
Marco Hauptmeier
The Petroleum Driver Passport is an example of the reregulation of the labour
market, the development of employment rules that apply across multiple employers
in a given industry, occupation or region. The scheme requires drivers of road tankers
to possess a Passport, indicating their safety competence, if they are to collect and
transport fuel in the UKs downstream oil-distribution industry. This article presents
a case study of the Passport scheme, which identies the factors that contributed to
the schemes development, assesses its impact and draws lessons for other possible
initiatives to reregulate the labour market.
The deregulation of the labour market has been a core element of the Washington
Consensus, the neoliberal framework that has dominated Western public policy for
three decades. Deregulation has encompassed the weakening or withdrawal of sub-
stantive employment rules, designed to shelter workers from market forces or estab-
lish minimum standards. It has also embraced procedural reform, restricting the
opportunities for workers to seek legal redress for grievances or organise and bargain
through trade unions. Finally, it has involved decentralisation of labour market
decision-making, typically through the break-up of industrywide collective
bargaining and the abandoning of employment regulation that establishes common
standards across multiple employers. Reform of the labour market in accordance
with these principles has been a marked feature of the recent Coalition and Conserva-
tive administrations of the UK (Williams and Scott, 2016) and, in the period since the
global nancial crisis, has also been characteristic of several continental European
countries (Marginson, 2015; Meardi 2014). The appetite for deregulation amongst
many policy makers remains unabated. For proponents, reform of this kind improves
the functioning of the labour market and so operates to the long-term benet of both
buyers and sellers of labour. Privileged insiders, such as those organised in trade
unions that monopolise labour supply, may lose access to economic rents as
market-restricting regulation is abolished, but the package of reform is believed to
serve all legitimate labour market interests.
Edmund Heery is Professor of Employment Relations; Leon Gooberman is Lecturer in Human
Resource Management; and Marco Hauptmeier is Reader in International Human Resource
Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, UK.
Correspondence should be addressed to Edmund Heery, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University,
Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, UK; email:
Industrial Relations Journal 48:3, 274291
ISSN 0019-8692
© 2017 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
While the deregulationist programme remains highly inuential, it has increasingly
been subject to critique by those who question whether its effects are universally
benecial. One line of critique claims that deregulation encourages a low-skill/low-
productivity dynamic within the economy and so operates against the long-term
interests of capital itself. The claim here is that deregulation encourages a form of
economic development that is excessively reliant on cost reduction and that is not
sustainable over the longer term (Rubery et al., 2016). A second argument points to
the high social cost associated with rising income inequality, which itself is regarded
as the unavoidable consequence of a deregulated labour market. According to this
line of argument, the emergence of a precariat, a substantial group of low-wage,
insecure workers, threatens social integration and facilitates political volatility, seen
in the rise of populist political movements (Standing, 2011). A third argument claims
essentially that while business may gain from deregulation, at least in the shorter
term, there are serious adverse consequences for labour seen in the erosion of employ-
ment standards and a race to the bottomin standards of management practice. The
suggestion here is that deregulation is zero-sum in its effects, shifting the balance of
economic returns from labour to capital and transferring risk from employers to
workers (Hacker, 2008; Kochan and Riordan, 2016). Wage stagnation, insecure work
and diminished welfare support, according to this view, are the price that workers pay
for deregulation.
Growing awareness of the potential downside to deregulation has prompted the
emergence of counterproposals. The need to reregulate the labour market has
emerged as a theme in public policy. Advocates of reregulation have tended to call
for new institutions of labour market governance that operate above the level of the
employing enterprise and that can afford fresh protection to workers and re-establish
good labour market standards within industry or occupational labour markets. The
purpose of this article is to present a case study of a successful initiative of this kind,
the Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) scheme. The latter is a new form of industry-
level regulation that operates in the UKs downstream oil-distribution industry and
that stipulates and enforces safe working practices in the transport of petroleum-
related products. Under the scheme, petroleum tanker drivers can only collect fuel
from reneries and distribution centres if they possess a passport, which vouches for
their safety competence. The scheme is backed by trade unions, the oil majors, logis-
tics companies and other stakeholders within the industry and represents a concerted,
industrywide attempt to address mounting concern about safety standards in a
fragmented and competitive sector. In what follows, we present an account of the
scheme, identify the multiple factors that caused it to be created, evaluate its success
and offer reections on the lessons that it holds for the wider theme of reregulation.
Before presenting the case, however, we rst examine the literature on reregulation,
identifying core prescriptions and reviewing key pieces of research.
Just as the deregulation of the labour market can assume a number of forms, so might
its reregulation. Inter alia, it can encompass the enactment of new or the strengthen-
ing of existing legal protection for employees, the strengthening of enforcement mech-
anisms through which such protection is given effect and the bolstering of the capacity
of trade unions to organise workers and engage in collective bargaining with em-
ployers (Dickens and Hall, 2003). It can also encompass centralisation and the
275Petroleum Driver Passport
© 2017 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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