FUEL tanker drivers were set to launch a four-day strike early today – halting petrol supplies to 1,000 garages.
Shell pumps – one in ten in the UK – were expected to run dry within 24 hours.
The walkout came after drivers’ union Unite turned down a pay deal. Haulage firms Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport said workers were offered a 7.3 per cent rise this year and six per cent next – lifting average salaries to £41,500.
Unite was urged to halt the strike and ask members to vote on the deal, but bosses refused.
Assistant general secretary Len McCluskey said pumps would start to run dry “immediately” – and all 1,000 would be hit within a day.
He said Shell made £1.3billion a month, adding: “It is obscene that companies which make enormous profits are not prepared to share that wealth with the workers. We want more.” Shell admitted the strike would cause chaos. A spokesman said: “It is inevitable it will have a significant impact on our stations.”
PM Gordon Brown urged motorists not to panic-buy after some stations ran out earlier this week.
Business Secretary John Hutton said: “Our advice now is just to buy the fuel you actually need.”
Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan said: “This is very bad News
. It will pile pain on people struggling to pay their bills.”
Emergency plans were put in place so 999 services have fuel.
BRIT David Copestake, 40, and son Dylan, 12, feared for their lives when Spanish truckers, protesting at fuel costs, threw rocks at their van doing 70mph near Marbella.