Talks aimed at resolving the fuel tanker drivers dispute and head off the threat of strikes got under way today.
Officials from the Unite union and seven distribution companies met in London under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas.
Briefings have been held with all the parties in the past few days and Acas said that "substantive conciliation talks" will take place today at an undisclosed location.
The dispute over terms and conditions and health and safety has been brewing for more than a year but flared up last week when Unite announced that workers in five of the firms had voted to strike.
The Government advised motorists to top up with fuel, leading to chaotic scenes at garages across the country as people queued for petrol.
Unite announced on Friday it would not be striking over Easter as it engaged with Acas over the peace moves, and would have to give seven days notice of any industrial action.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "For nearly two years, we have been trying to persuade the fuel distribution sector to work with us to defend best practice across the industry.
"It is vital that common, minimum standards on safety, training, wages and pensions are agreed to put a floor of best practice in the sector."
A spokesman for Hoyer, one of the firms involved in the dispute, said: "Given that safety is a mantra for our business, we believe there are some fundamental areas of agreement between ourselves and Unite over the need to harmonise health and safety standards across the industry."