Fuel tanker drivers suspend strike action

Fuel tanker drivers ended their four-day strike over pay today ahead of fresh talks aimed at averting another walk-out this weekend.

British fuel tanker drivers ended their four-day strike over pay today ahead of fresh talks aimed at averting another walk-out this weekend.

More than 600 members of the Unite union employed by two haulage firms started delivering fuel to Shell garages for the first time since the end of last week.

The industrial action caused shortages of one or more types of fuel at half of Shell's 582 UK sites, with 121 running out altogether.

More than 600 petrol stations ran out of petrol or diesel yesterday because of the stoppage - 7% of the 8,900 sites across the UK.

Union officials will meet again with managers from Hoyer and Suckling at a secret location later today to try to break the deadlock row over pay.

Negotiations broke down last week but informal contact was maintained over the weekend and the two sides met for over three hours yesterday.

The meetings have raised hopes that progress is being made and a deal can be agreed before any further industrial action is held.

The union has told both companies there will be another four-day strike from 6am on Friday if the dispute is not resolved.

Shell said in a statement later: "Shell's operations commenced at 6am this morning and all locations are operating as normal.

"We are busy scheduling more than 400 deliveries in the next 12 hours. We want to thank our customers for their continued patience."

A petrol station that was criticised for profiteering from the strike after increasing the cost of fuel to £1.99 (€2.50) a litre today dropped its prices.

The Foxhayes station at Exwick, near Exeter, Devon, is in one of the hardest hit areas in the country with many garages running dry in the South West.

Manager Ron James said he put all grades of diesel and petrol up to more than £9 (€11.33) a gallon to "conserve stocks".

The station came under fire from fuel price watchdog petrolprices.com who said putting the price up so much at a time when drivers were struggling was "inexcusable".

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