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6:49am UK, Friday March 30, 2012
Sales of unleaded petrol were up 172% yesterday as talks to deal with a potential fuel driver strike get under way.
The Retail Motor Industry Federation – which represents independent petrol stations – said that sales yesterday nearly doubled when compared to a regular Thursday.
Diesel sales were up by 77%, the federation said.
The Government is to discuss contingency plans with haulage bosses over the threatened fuel tanker strike.
Conciliation talks between the Unite Union and 7 distribution companies will not take place before Monday.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, whose jerry can comments have been largely blamed for the panic-buying
Union representatives and tanker firms had previously been expected to get to the table by the end of this week.
But because the union must give seven days’ notice before any strike date is set, the delay means any action over the whole of the Easter weekend – which had been feared – now appears less likely.
Despite the fact that no strike has been called some petrol stations have been forced to close as motorists rush to fill up their cars.
The annoucement that talks will be delayed followed news that increased sales of fuel from panic-buying by motorists yesterday will bring in more than £32 million in extra fuel excise duty, the AA has calculated.
The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents around 5,500 garages, blamed advice from the Government on keeping tanks topped up, including the much-criticised call by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to fill up jerry cans.
A spokesman said: “This is exactly what we didn’t want – people panic-buying. Deliveries are still being made to garages and we are advising people to continue with their normal buying habits.”
AA president Edmund King said: “There is no fuel tanker strike and therefore if drivers followed normal fuel-buying patterns there would be no fuel shortage whatsoever.”
Unite represents around 2,000 drivers in seven distribution companies, although union members in two of the firms voted against strikes.