Petrol Strike At Easter Ruled Out By Union

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Unite has ruled out strike action by tanker drivers over Easter to focus on talks the union said today, amid scenes of panic buying across the country.

Unite, which represents around 2,000 tanker drivers, said it retained the right to call industrial action if talks, expected to start next week, break down.

The move followed more panic buying at garages across the country today, and an incident in which a woman was badly burned when petrol ignited as she transferred it between containers in her kitchen.

Queues at petrol stations were blamed on government advice by the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents about 5,500 garages.

"This is exactly what we didn't want - people panic-buying," a spokesman said.

"Deliveries are still being made to garages and we are advising people to continue with their normal buying habits."

At the centre of the storm is Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who advised people to fill up jerry cans as a precaution in case there was a strike.

London Fire Brigade has urged people thinking of storing fuel to take "extreme care" and to follow safety guidelines.

A spokesperson said: “This tragic accident is a stark reminder that people should be extremely careful if they are thinking of storing petrol and make sure that they take all the necessary precautions.

“You should always store petrol away from the house in either a shed or a garage and well away from people and anywhere where it might be close to a naked flame or other source of ignition.”

The service also reminded people that it is against the law to store more than 20 litres (4 gallons) of petrol in two 10 litre (2 gallon) metal containers, and 10 litres (2 gallons) in two 5 litre (1 gallon) plastic containers.