Page last updated at 18:42 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 19:42 UK

Talks resume as fuel strike ends

Tanker driver working for Shell returns to work
Drivers have begun to return to work after a four-day strike

Tanker drivers working for Shell have ended their strike, but another is planned for later this week if talks fail to settle the dispute over pay.

Talks between the two sides resumed on Tuesday. Another four-day strike will start on Friday if no deal is reached.

The stoppage, which started on Friday, led to hundreds of petrol stations across Britain running out of fuel.

Drivers have begun to return to work, raising hopes that the fuel shortages will now ease.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, told the BBC that fuel supplies would remain tight, particularly if a second strike went ahead.

"I think our worry is that it will take some time to get supplies back to normal and if they go out again on Friday, I think the effects will be a lot worse than we saw over the last few days," he said.

The pay dispute involves 600 drivers working for two haulage firms contracted to Shell.

Offer rejected

The haulage companies - Hoyer UK and Suckling Transport - said unions had rejected a pay offer that would have taken the drivers' average salary to 41,500 by January 2009.

However, the Unite union says that excluding overtime, the offer would have increased salaries from just under 32,000 to 36,000.

There is still no sign of a resolution to the strike, despite another round of negotiations.

It is understood that the two sides have edged closer, but there is still not enough common ground to secure a settlement.

If an agreement is not reached, there will be only a brief chance to replenish stocks before the next four-day strike.

Dry forecourts

Lorries are starting to leave fuel depots as drivers return to work

More than 600 of the 8,700 petrol stations in the UK had run out of unleaded and diesel fuels on Monday.

Shell said about a fifth of its outlets had run dry.

The south-west of England, Cardiff and parts of London and the West Midlands have been particularly badly hit.

On Monday, one Devon petrol station began charging 1.99 a litre - more than 9 a gallon - for unleaded and diesel.

However, after widespread criticism, the garage dropped its prices on Tuesday to 1.20 a litre for petrol and 1.36 for diesel, with a maximum 5 spend.

"It got a bit extreme. I heard on the radio that we were more vilified than George Bush," a member of staff at the garage told BBC News.

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Sunday Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry - 22 mins ago
CNN Strikes spread across globe - 48 mins ago
Mirror Tanker drivers plan another strike as petrol pumps run dry - 1 hr ago
Andover Advertiser Motorists face more fuel disruption - 1 hr ago
The Scotsman Motorists face more fuel disruption - 1 hr ago

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