Bloomberg News

U.K. Warns of Fuel Shortages If Strike by Drivers Goes Ahead

March 27, 2012

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office warned businesses and the public to make preparations for fuel shortages if a strike by tank-truck drivers goes ahead.

Drivers in the Unite union working for five fuel- distribution companies whose customers include Tesco Plc (TSCO), J. Sainsbury Plc, BP Plc (BP/) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) voted yesterday to strike in protest at working conditions and changes to their pensions.

In 2000, protests outside oil refineries by farmers and truck drivers at the high price of gasoline led to panic-buying, nationwide shortages and rationing. Cameron’s spokeswoman, Vickie Sheriff, said today that even if army drivers were trained to drive the trucks during a strike, there would still be shortfalls.

“It would have an impact on people’s daily lives,” she said. “People should draw their own conclusions, but clearly businesses should draw up their own contingency plans.”

Unite now has 28 days to set a strike date, for which it must give seven days’ notice. The government is in talks with the fuel companies, which include Wincanton Plc (WIN) and Norbert Dentressangle SA (GND), about getting army drivers qualified to use their equipment, which requires eight days’ training.

The union said in an e-mailed statement today that it wants to avoid a strike and called on Energy Secretary Ed Davey to push employers into talks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.


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