Fueling panic: UK petrol stations run dry ahead of possible drivers’ strike

There is panic at the petrol pumps in Britain, ahead of a possible tanker driver strike. Some stations have already run dry after a government minister suggested people should fill their tanks and stock up with fuel cans.

­That is despite the fact that no industrial action has been called yet.

Drivers in a panic over whether they will be able to get enough fuel are queuing up at petrol stations, RT’s correspondent Laura Smith reports. That is in order to fill up ahead of a proposed national strike by petrol tanker drivers. This might become a self-fulfilling prophecy: if 30 million motorists suddenly decide they might not be able to get enough fuel, come and queue up at petrol stations, each of them wanting 50 liters of it, then there won't be much left, creating shortage in itself. The opposition is accusing the government of fueling that demand.

Meanwhile, British firefighters have claimed that Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude provoked motorists to break the law. Maude suggested filling up spare fuel cans before a possible strike action by delivery drivers. He proposed on Wednesday that drivers prepare for disruption to supplies that might be caused by a strike, by storing fuel in spare containers. In response to his words Britain’s Fire Brigades Union argued it was unsafe and in fact against the law to store more than 10 liters (about 2.6 gallons) of gasoline at home.

The government is desperately discussing various measures to prevent the strike or compensate for it if it does happen, including possibly bringing in armed forces.

The planned series of strikes are mostly over pay hours, redundancy and safety procedures. But they also have a lot to do with high fuel prices at the present time, which is partly due to the Iranian oil embargo, and partly because of a huge amount of tax: around 60 per cent of what people pay at the pump is tax, and that is likely to rise in August when the government puts up taxes on fuel again.

No date for industrial action has yet been set, and workers must give seven days notice before holding any strike.