Government changes advice on buying fuel

 

After Unite, the union representing 2,000 fuel tanker drivers, ruled out the threat of strikes over Easter, the Government last night changed its advice to drivers.

After days of urging motorists to fill up if their tanks dropped below two-thirds full, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said there was no need to queue on petrol forecourts.

"There is no urgency to top up your tank, a strike will not happen over Easter," it said.

But with Unite stressing it retained the right to call industrial action if talks, expected to start next week, break down, No 10 stressed the threat was not yet over.

"It remains vital we take the necessary steps to keep the country safe in case there is a strike," a spokesman said.

The move followed more panic-buying at garages across the country today and the revelation that petrol sales increased by almost 172 per cent yesterday while sales of diesel were up by almost 77 per cent.

Unite and the seven distribution companies involved in the dispute are in contact with Acas but no substantive talks will be held until next week.

Assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: "We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through Acas.

"We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter, should those talks break down.

"It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry.

"This is not a political dispute. It is an industrial dispute and the Government's recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement."

An Acas spokesman said: "We are pleased that Unite have confirmed they are ready to start substantive talks as soon as possible.

"We are meeting all of the employers involved in the dispute on Monday to complete our exploratory talks with them.

"We hope that more formal talks involving both Unite and the employers will start as soon as possible after Monday."

The Prime Minister said: "It is now clear there will not be a strike before Easter and I'm sure the whole country will welcome that news.

"It is vitally important the trade union in question enters these talks on Monday constructively. The most constructive thing they could do would be to call off the strike entirely.

"That would ease pressure in the system still further. The Government will continue with its contingency plans."

Senior Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin criticised the way the ministers had provoked panic-buying after a week of difficult headlines for the Government.

"My feeling is this was to try to take people's minds off donors, the Budget and pasties - and the Government added to the heat on this," he told the BBC's Sunday Politics East programme.

"But really there should not have been any move to encourage people to buy more than they normally buy without consulting the industry first. I think that was the mistake."

A spokeswoman for BP said demand had eased following the new Government advice.

"It has eased, certainly from yesterday. There is less demand on forecourts," she said.

"However there is still above normal demand. We are making deliveries as quickly as possible to sites and are working 24/7 to get fuel to sites that are running or have run out.

"We have got very few sites that have run out completely - they might have run out of diesel or of petrol - but we are doing our best to replenish sites as quickly as possible.

"We urge people to heed the Government's latest advice."

A spokeswoman for Morrisons, which owns and operates 301 petrol stations, said: "Our supply chain is working at full capacity to ensure sites are replenished and we can continue to keep up with customer demand.

"We have experienced only a handful of temporary stock-outs at sites which were quickly resolved."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works