Worries over effects of Shell tanker drivers’ strike

A THREATENED strike by nearly 1,000 tanker drivers supplying Shell forecourts could cause another fuel panic and send prices soaring further, north-east politicians warned last night.

The threat emerged as 1,000 drivers employed by Hoyer, a company contracted to deliver Shell fuel to garages, threatened a four-day strike in support of their bid to increase their minimum wage from £34,000 a year to £36,000.

Louise Doherty, a spokes-woman for the fuel price comparison website petrolprices.com, said this on top of soaring world prices could push the price of diesel up “well past” £6 a gallon.

Gordon Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce said: “If the strike goes ahead it will be another severe turn of the screw, with unleaded already nearly 120p a litre, with people and businesses hurting.

“The drivers will not get popular support by striking for an above-inflation pay rise and inflicting more hardship at a time when businesses and motorists are feeling the pinch.”

North-east Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said there was a risk a strike would push up prices at the pumps on top of recent world price rises.

He added: “The Grangemouth dispute showed how panic can spread if supplies are interrupted and it would be no surprise to me if this had similar results.

“It is highly irresponsible for any trade union to exploit its position in this way.”

SNP business spokesman Mike Weir said: “Hard-pressed families in Scotland cannot face yet another significant upsurge in prices.

“I would appeal to the drivers to think of the effect they could have, causing great difficulties to consumers, if they carry out their threat.”

The drivers, members of the Unite union, are seeking conciliation through Acas.

In England, protesters last night said they had formed a human blockade and were preventing tankers from leaving an oil refinery.

It is the second blockade of the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire in the last five weeks. Around 500 people gathered outside the refinery, and claimed to have prevented around 90 tankers from leaving.