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Fuel strike threat forces emergency tactics

Fuel strike threat forces emergency tactics

The Government has discreetly invoked emergency powers to minimise the impact of strikes by fuel tanker drivers which would “inevitably” see filling stations run dry.

The powers, which were activated quietly last Friday to avoid the risk of panic buying, will safeguard fuel for the emergency services and allow fuel to be moved to the greatest areas of need.

Around 500 tanker drivers, employed by hauliers Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport which are the sole suppliers to Shell, are threatening to strike for four days from this Friday over pay. They demanded a 13 per cent increase but were offered 6.5 per cent.

Shell operates most of its 1,000 forecourts – 10 per cent of the UK total – in the south east, the north west, central Scotland and parts of the Midlands.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, fears any strike could cause far more wide-reaching problems than the protest at the Grangemouth oil refinery in April.

Industry backs the minister’s fears and senior figures have begun working with the Government to minimise disruption.

While a spokesman for Shell said that the oil company had done everything it could to avoid fuel running out if a strike takes place, a spokesman for the Department for Business said: “It is inevitable there would be some stock-outs.”

Drivers’ union Unite believes their wages are too low.

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