Downing Street urged unions and oil companies to get round the table for talks to prevent a tanker drivers' strike, as senior ministers met to draw up contingency plans to keep fuel supplies moving.
David Cameron and his Cabinet were briefed yesterday on plans to put military personnel through an eight-day training course to take the place of striking drivers. But Downing Street said the training had not yet started, as discussions with companies were still under way. Asked whether motorists should fill their tanks in the wake of Monday's overwhelming vote for industrial action by members of the Unite union, a No 10 spokeswoman said: "I think people should draw their own conclusions." And she added: "Businesses and those who rely on vehicles for their work should ensure contingency plans are in place. It is always prudent to have contingency plans in place."
The spokeswoman said that the Government was sending out a "strong message" to both sides in the dispute that they should "get round the table and discuss this, because a strike and the disruption that would follow is in nobody's interest, particularly the UK economy's".
Unite says the dispute concerns terms and conditions, and safety.