Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 16:04 UK

Rush to pumps more of a trickle

By Mark Simpson
BBC North of England correspondent

Shell tanker drivers picketing at Coryton, Essex
Drivers said they "weren't asking for the earth"

The rush to the pumps has not been as fast and furious as many feared before the start of the Shell tanker driver strike.

The government message of "don't panic" - which was ignored in spectacular fashion during the Northern Rock crisis - seems to have got through this time.

Or perhaps there are other reasons. Maybe the high cost of fuel means that some of those who wanted to bulk buy could not afford to do so.

"At more than 1.30 a litre of diesel, panic buying is simply too expensive," said one petrol customer at a forecourt in Chester.

"I am worried - but I'm more worried about the price of petrol than whether or not it's going to run out for a few days."

I can do your job - you can't do mine 'cos you don't have a heavy goods licence and the proper certificates
David Reynolds,
Tanker driver

A cross-country tour of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire on Saturday morning revealed little evidence of panic. No queues at the pumps were seen, but this is only day two of the strike.

Come Monday morning, when many people will have filled up their cars for the week ahead, a truer picture may emerge. That is when the contingency plans will be fully tested.

Another test will come next weekend when another four-day stoppage is planned.

Pay rise 'deserved'

On the picket line at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in Cheshire, the striking Shell fuel tanker drivers are standing firm.

David Reynolds, who has been driving petrol around the UK for 31 years, insists he deserves a pay rise, even though he already earns around 32,000 a year as a basic wage.

He told me: "I can do your job - you can't do mine 'cos you don't have a heavy goods licence and the proper certificates.

"It's not just sitting behind a wheel and driving. We carry dangerous cargo. They are difficult vehicles to drive - particularly when idiots flick cigarettes at you for a laugh."

One of his colleagues interrupts: "We're not asking for the earth. We just want what we're worth - 36,000 basic."

There is a feeling among some strikers that a compromise could be reached. But there is no sign of the picket lines going away.

At Stanlow, they are preparing for the long haul. They have food, drink, shelter and enough daily newspapers to start a corner shop.

One striking trucker arrived this morning with a football. But no-one wanted to play, because it was too hot a day.

Whatever way you look at the strike, the heat is definitely on.


SEE ALSO
Talks to avert tanker strike fail
11 Jun 08 |  Business
Drivers warned against fuel panic
10 Jun 08 |  Business
Talks over Shell driver pay fail
05 Jun 08 |  Business

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